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The study also showed that many states are identifying and targeting high-potential foreign markets and connecting with partners abroad.

In Nebraska, where the unemployment rate is 3.9 percent, the governor’s strategy for pulling the state out of the recession has been simple.

“We don’t spend money we don’t have,” Mr. Heineman said.

Mr. Walker agreed.

“It’s not just spending more,” he said, “it’s spending taxpayers’ money more wisely.”

Mr. Walker said Wisconsin is one of the few states that is handling the nation’s economic struggles well, because it has a business-friendly environment.

He pointed out that 94 percent of the employers there approve of the job the governor´s office is doing in Wisconsin, up from only 10 percent two years ago when he took office.

“I´m still scratching my head wondering about the other 6 percent,” he joked.

In Wisconsin, Mr. Walker is trying to balance the state´s budget without raising taxes, massive layoffs, or cuts to Medicare and Medicaid.

“We tried to think about the next generation, instead of just the next election,” he said.

Wisconsin exports also grew almost 12 percent last year, and unemployment is below 7 percent for the first time since 2008, Mr. Walker pointed out.

“Government can either be a barrier or it can be a partner in economic development,” he said, “and we chose to be a partner.”