Government aid -- in the form of tax credits, loans or grants -- is also key to many of these deals. Both Ford and AmTrust will be getting significant state aid. And while this may offend ideologues on both the left and the right, it is a simple reflection of economic reality. With other states vigorously competing for investment and with credit markets still tight, Ohio has no choice but to get in the game.
While it would seem to be obvious to us, (and the Plain Dealer apparently), that Ohio has no choice but to get in the game and actually compete with other states to attract good jobs, it was not obvious to those running the state in years past. We lost over 400,000 jobs, and our economic development department was inefficient and ineffective. So, when John Kasich was elected on the promise of making Ohio jobs friendly again, you'd think everyone would be on board with the changes necessary.
Unfortunately, we have seen Ohio's left oppose the reforms Governor Kasich has enacted at every turn. For example, the people over at "ProgressOhio" think that we should have stuck with the status quo of the last ten years. Despite the fact that we lost the 3rd most jobs of any state in the last decade, they continue to file frivolous lawsuits against the state's new economic development entity, JobsOhio, to block job-creating efforts. It must really chafe their shorts now that positive results are coming to fruition. The Plain Dealer has certainly paid attention, and knows where to give credit where it is due.
In that light, the Kasich administration seems to have done a good job in its first 11 months of being aggressive when it needed to be -- economic development professionals say they are impressed with the new speed of decision-making -- and of demanding solid, early returns on public investment. State officials say one reason they refused to match North Carolina's $22.7 million bid to lure Chiquita Brands International from Cincinnati is that it would have taken a decade to recoup Ohio's money.When Governor Kasich said his JobsOhio team would accelerate economic development up to the "speed of business", liberals snickered and sued.
But Mark Kvamme, the venture capitalist who heads the new JobsOhio effort, is quick to say that incentives are only a small part of how his team woos firms to move to Ohio or stay here. He points to Menards, a home improvement retailer that has decided to add 350 jobs at its Toledo-area distribution center. Yes, Menards got a tax credit, Kvamme says, but far more important was the state's willingness to increase the weight limit of delivery trucks to be on a par with Michigan's regulations.
Rebuilding Ohio's economy remains a work in progress -- but the momentum, for once, seems to be in the right direction.
Economic development professionals say they are impressed with the new speed of decision-making.
Those aren't my words, or words from the Kasich administration. They're from Ohio's largest newspaper. Who's laughing now?