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NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE—Governors joined together at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, today to kick off the National Governors Association’s (NGA) 106th Summer Meeting. NGA Chair Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, Vice Chair Colorado Gov. John Hickenloper and Host Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam welcomed a bipartisan group of colleagues for three days of productive meetings.

“It is an honor to welcome the nation’s governors to the great state of Tennessee,” said Gov. Haslam. “I look forward to a great weekend of substantive conversation and the chance to show them everything Nashville has to offer.”

Gov. Fallin outlined the priorities governors have identified through NGA, including supporting job creation and economic growth, protecting the National Guard, urging Congress to take swift action to pass the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act and addressing the nation’s water infrastructure needs. “Governors are successfully working through NGA in a bipartisan fashion to pursue policies that help our states,” Gov. Fallin said.

Gov. Fallin said that governors are looking for certainty and long-term solutions to fund the aging infrastructure system, hoping that Congress will rely on governors’ tax reform principles and urging Congress to complete the long-overdue reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act.

“Despite positive movement on numerous issues, there is still work to be done,” said Gov. Fallin. “While states continue to develop solutions, we hope our federal partners will soon take action on these items.”

The meeting also will highlight Gov. Fallin’s chair’s initiative, America Works: Education and Training for Tomorrow’s Jobs. The initiative is about making significant improvements to education systems and workforce training programs to better align them with the needs of business and labor markets.

“My initiative seeks to establish a ‘new minimum’ for economic success: either a two-year or four-year college degree or relevant workforce certification,” Gov. Fallin noted. “Without some kind of postsecondary education, a majority of our children and working adults will find it hard to achieve the American Dream and access a fulfilling middle-class life or beyond.”

Tomorrow, she will share lessons learned throughout the year and leading state examples from the initiative. Governors will be joined by Stephen J. Rohleder, Accenture group chief executive, North America.

Gov. Hickenlooper reiterated the importance of bringing governors together to look for solutions to common challenges.

“This weekend is an opportunity for governors to engage in conversations about important issues affecting our states,” said Gov. Hickenlooper. “We face many similar challenges. NGA meetings are a time for us to come together, so I’m happy to be here with my colleagues to learn from one another.”

Highlights of the meeting include: 

  • A session with the Vice President of the United States Joe Biden to discuss the state-federal partnership;
  • An Economic Development Commerce Committee meeting on actions states can take to help small and medium-sized businesses create jobs and grow state economies;
  • The Education and Workforce Committee session on the role of education in economic development with U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander;
  • A meeting of the Health and Human Services Committee to explore the changing health care landscape;
  • A session on veterans’ transition to civilian employment with the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee;
  • A Natural Resources Committee session on the nation’s electric grid; and
  • A session featuring Best Buy President and chief executive officer  Hubert Joly, who will talk with governors about the Future of Main Street

Throughout the meeting, governors will attend “governors-only” sessions, which provide an opportunity to discuss issues states are facing in a private, off-the-record setting. The Summer Meeting will conclude with a welcome to incoming NGA Chair Gov. Hickenlooper and the incoming vice chair, who will be announced on Sunday. In addition, Gov. Hickenlooper will unveil his 2014-2015 chair’s initiative.