Hanna says STEM education just as important for boosting economy

Aug 9, 2012

Fixing the tax code and overhauling regulation is important for boosting small businesses, says Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barnevald), but he says in the long term, increasing science and math education is the key for the economy.

After a tour of Design Concepts and Enterprises LLC, a small medical device maker in Central Square, on Wednesday, Hanna said he's going about backing small businesses a little differently. Science, technology, engineering and math - often called STEM - education is where there needs to be more focus, according to Hanna.

"We simply are not prepared to compete the way we need to in the world," he said.

Hanna was a small business owner himself for three decades before winning a seat in Congress in 2010.

"All the other things we could do – tax code, fine; repatriation – all the thing we want to do – regulation – all that is important," said Hanna. "But over the long haul, it’s the value-added nature of education that transforms people and countries."

Hanna said he just authored a new bill that will help people pay for advanced STEM education.

Central Square does not sit in the congressman's current district, New York's 24th, but the newly-drawn one, the 22nd District. Hanna is running for against Democrat Dan Lamb.

Design Concepts employs 13 people making the machines to attach medical needles to sutures. In business for five years, the company will be adding about two dozen more workers by the end of the year, according to Managing Partner Ted Vermette.