The privatization of the state’s economic development activities took a significant step forward with the release of the JobsOhio II report outlining the details of which development functions would move to JobsOhio and which would remain with the state.
The report focused on several keys questions about development’s functions: Who is the customer? What is the source of funding? What is the impact on job creation?
Ultimately, state-funded programs that serve the business community and have a direct, high impact on job creation were recommended for JobsOhio. Thus, JobsOhio will offer business loans, grants and “close the deal” discretionary funds and make equity investments through funds generated by leasing the state’s liquor profits for $1.2 billion. The Ohio Department of Development will undergo a name change to the Ohio Development Services Agency and will manage the Third Frontier, small and minority business and export assistance, tax credits and workforce development, urban and site development, housing, energy, community services and the Governor’s Office of Appalachia. The department will retain the approval and servicing functions for incentive packages using public funds. The Ohio Tourism Division eventually will be moved to JobsOhio, as well. The plan is estimated to result in the loss of 211 state jobs, mostly through eliminating unfilled positions, retirements and the transfer of positions to JobsOhio.
Many of the recommended changes can be implemented through structural reorganization without any statutory changes and were expected to start immediately. In addition to legislation to change the department’s name, the report anticipates that the JobsOhio II legislation will include improvements to accelerate the approval process for tax credits, authorization for JobsOhio to form a nonprofit subsidiary corporation to promote tourism and language clarifying that financial assistance awards using public funds remain state functions.
JobsOhio’s interim Chief Investment Officer, Gov. John Kasich’s jobs czar Mark Kvamme, along with Department of Development Director Christiane Schmenk and various regional partners held a series of regional presentations to discuss Ohio’s new economic development strategy throughout the end of August. To see presentations from those regional meetings and to learn more about JobsOhio, visit www.jobs-ohio.com. Given the Governor’s strong interest in seeing JobsOhio up and fully functional, the JobsOhio II legislation likely will be a priority for the General Assembly this fall.