Holland promises to be Kansas' "economic cheerleader"

MANHATTAN – Promising to be the state's "number one economic cheerleader," Sen. Tom Holland on Tuesday laid out his plan to encourage economic growth in Kansas.

Speaking in Manhattan at the Kansas Economic Development Alliance Fall conference, Holland, a Democrat from Baldwin City, said that if elected governor he would funnel more money to education – both kindergarten to 12th grade and higher education.

He also promised to put more economic development money into technical training so Kansas had a workforce that met the needs of potential employers.

"We know that companies come to Kansas in part because we have a quality workforce and quality state schools," he said.

The talk was one of a series of appearances that the gubernatorial hopeful had on his schedule this week to pitch his plan for the state to various civic and development groups.

Republican candidate Sen. Sam Brownback had been invited to speak at the conference Tuesday but was unable to attend.

Over the last year, Kansas has lost about 60,000 jobs. Holland put partial fault for the economic downturn in Washington D.C., where his opponent has served for more than a decade.

"I don't think we will be successful if we follow the same path," he said.

Holland also said he thought that state agencies, such as the state Department of Commerce, had done a good job developing the state’s economy. "They have put together the packages to bring companies to the state without giving away the farm," he said.

Holland said he would support the department's efforts by being the state's cheerleader and touting the state's schools and roads which made it an attractive place for companies to relocate.

He also thought that by making sure Kansas was educating its workforce to meet future job growth areas.

"Our focus should be on making sure we know our employers needs," he said.

That would help attract more companies and keep more young people, and their families, living and working in the state," he said.

For more, read Wednesday's Wichita Eagle.