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Fri, Dec. 06

Governor praises Contractors Association's 'Don't Go It Alone'

PRESCOTT – Gov. Janet Napolitano used a gathering Friday afternoon to back a campaign to hire licensed and bonded contractors, and present a check to support a job training program at a Prescott Valley plant.

And before she spoke to the Yavapai County Contractors Association and the Prescott Chamber of Commerce, she downplayed the likelihood that Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry would ask her to serve as his running mate.

Napolitano's appearance drew an estimated 200 people to the grounds outside the Sharlot Hall Museum, according to Ethan Edwards, executive director of the contractors association, which has about 270 members.

The association invited Napolitano, who attended numerous other events in Prescott on Friday, to recognize the organization for its "Don't Go it Alone" program, Edwards said. The program urges homeowners to hire licensed and bonded contractors.

Napolitano started her 10-minute speech by saying, "Thank you very much. Don't go it alone. It's great to be here."

She said the rapid population growth in Yavapai County has created "an incredible need" for contractors. She said Arizona residents last year spent at least $25 million in construction work performed by contractors who were not licensed or bonded.

The Arizona Registrar of Contractors office also recently launched the Neighborhood Ambassador program to crack down on home repair scams involving unlicensed contractors, Napolitano said, adding that the program is similar in concept to Neighborhood Watch.

She also spoke briefly about the water crisis, the costs of health care for businesses, and reviving the Governor's Small Business Advisory Council, which will have about 25 members.

Napolitano concluded her appearance by presenting a check for $51,400 from the state Department of Commerce to MI Home Products Inc. (also known as BetterBilt) in Prescott Valley. The check covers a grant for job training that matches company dollars for training 389 employees at the plant, which manufactures vinyl and aluminum windows and doors for developers and retailers.

The grant program en-couraged MI to remain in Arizona rather than relocate to Pennsylvania, Napolitano said.

Asked beforehand whether she would be Kerry's running mate, Napolitano said, "I'm not commenting on those questions. It's so speculative. It's nice to have your name mentioned. I don't say 'never' to anything."

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