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Gov. Hutchinson Touts Low Unemployment at State Chamber Meeting

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Governor Asa Hutchinson spoke at State Chamber/ Associated Industries of Arkansas’s 90th Annual Meeting on Thursday, Nov. 14. The meeting was held in the Statehouse Convention Center governor’s room with a full audience of business leaders and key Arkansas figures.

“The ‘Be Pro, Be Proud‘ initiative has made a difference in recruiting individuals who want to go into the workforce to let them know that opportunity is there,” Governor Hutchinson says. “It has made a difference.”

The “Be Pro, Be Proud” program was created in 2015 and is led by the Associated Industries of Arkansas. Governor Hutchinson said that because of this program, the number of high schools without career education centers have gone down from 55 to 17 in the state of Arkansas.

“That’s giving a prejudices across Arkansas that’s moved from 3,600 to 6,000 students and adults that are in apprenticeship programs,” Governor Hutchinson says.

Governor Hutchinson proceeded to speak on Arkansas’s unemployment rate being the lowest it has ever been at 3.5% statewide. “Over the last four years we’ve had 65,000 people move out of poverty and into work and that is a significant part of the success,” Governor Hutchinson says.

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Governor Hutchinson then spoke on how work requirement in the medicaid and food stamp programs are designed to move people into opportunities and give prisoners a second chance when they are released.

“Whether it’s state government that gives people the opportunity or the employers in this room, we want to increase labor participation rate,” Governor Hutchinson says.

The speech continued with the topic of high schools teaching computer science. Governor Hutchinson said that the incentive started with 3,000 students a few years ago, then 6,000 students last year, and now 8,000 high school students in the state of Arkansas are taking computer science courses.

“That is a 33 percent increase. That is the success that we want to see and we want to stay on the forefront,” Governor Hutchinson says.

The speech then concluded with Governor Hutchinson discussing his agenda for his next term, saying that he wants to focus on legislation passing a new highway plan, fight for competitive income tax rates, supplying more funding for teacher pay and adding new state departments.

“These are the objectives of a more efficient state government that will render services better and over time we’ll be able to be more efficient to save taxpayers dollars.”

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