In a decade, JobsOhio reversed major industry declines


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The ability to inject $ 500 million into the state’s economy follows a decision made in 2013, when JobsOhio spent $ 1.4 billion to buy the rights to the alcohol business from the State until 2038. It was a profitable decision. In 2020 alone, Ohio liquor sales hit a record $ 1.57 billion, a 19% increase from the previous year.

Over the past decade, revenues from these funds have been used to help more than 2,800 economic development project agreements involving 500 new businesses coming to Ohio and 2,100 existing local businesses expanding into the state. These projects, according to JobsOhio’s 10-year overview of its performance, are responsible for more than 800,000 jobs representing more than $ 45 billion in payroll that subsequently generated more than $ 1.35 billion in taxes. annual.

In the decade leading up to 2011, Ohio lost more than 230,000 industrial jobs, a drop of 18%, according to quarterly census data of employment and wages from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“It was (it was) losing the best employer in every major city in Ohio: Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton and Toledo,” said Nauseef, who held the most senior position in the organization. in 2019. “I’d say if you ask what’s the best accomplishment for JobsOhio and our network partners, it’s about reversing decades of decline in these industries.”

JobsOhio has focused its efforts on nine strategic areas: advanced manufacturing; aerospace and aviation; automobile; energy and chemicals; financial services; food and agro-industry; health care; logistics and distribution; and technology – deemed to have the most potential economic impact in the state.

Since JobsOhio took over the distribution of grants and loans, those industries have seen an average employment increase of 14% across all fields, according to the organization’s analysis.

“Our targeted industries represent about a third of the state’s gross product, just under a quarter of total employment, and about 40% of Ohio payroll,” Nauseef said.

Nauseef said the average salary per job in these targeted industries is about 35% higher than the average salary in the rest of the private sector economy in Ohio.

Shortly before the first pandemic-related shutdowns in March 2020, Nauseef rolled out a complete realignment of strategies and goals, dubbed “JobsOhio 2.0”. The strategy increased the group’s annual investment in loans and grants from $ 150 million to $ 500 million, developed 12 major new economic programs, and added the military / federal sector – think NASA Glenn Research Center and Wright Patterson, near Dayton – to the other nine. target industry sectors.

Mark Barbash, who was a development official in the administration of former Governor Ted Strickland, points out that by devoting significant funding to targeted programs, JobsOhio is bolstering development dollars.

“With the creation of these programs, they recognize that there are issues that they are targeting, like helping the workforce and helping communities in distress and we are going to put money into that.” , did he declare. “In government you would have to say, ‘Well, I’m sorry, there’s not much we can do, there are guidelines and rules.’ In the past, programs were designed narrow rather than broad. That’s one of the big differences with a JobsOhio type organization and what it does. “

In one of these large-scale moves to position the state for future technological innovations and industry advancements, the group has committed $ 300 million for three innovation districts in Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. The idea of ​​creating a niche for innovation is modeled on similar efforts in Atlanta and St. Louis that have developed vibrant technology ecosystems, Nauseef said.

Research institutes and other partners are required to help build these innovation districts with increased spending on research and skilled workers in STEM.

“The three districts are designed to produce 47,000 net new STEM degrees, 60,000 new jobs and generate up to $ 9 billion in annual economic impact for the state over 10 years,” said Nauseef. “A $ 100 million investment in Cleveland is expected to triple the production of STEM talent.”

Critics argued that JobsOhio’s private, nonprofit structure left it with no obligation to disclose communications or transactions with companies, and that the organization did not fall under state and federal Freedom of Information Act regulations. , as a typical state agency would. Supporters of JobsOhio, however, see it as the best way to facilitate the public-private deals needed to strengthen the state’s economy.

“Transparency has always been an issue when it comes to dealing with public-private agreements,” said Barbash. “In government, we have always tried to negotiate them as quietly as possible, because companies don’t want them to be public.”

JobsOhio also brings in staff with experience in the private sector and pays them compassionate salaries (higher than state salaries) to make deals with companies, Nauseef said.

“There is fierce competition for investment, and when people hear that a big amount of money is going to help a business, it is good to remember that we are getting that and more,” he said. declared. “Of the 2,800 deals we’ve closed in 10 years, only 34 of them have reached the point where they’ve suffered some kind of recovery or default. That’s a 98.8% success rate.” (He added that the defaults sent tax or loan funds back to the state.)

Nauseef said the pipeline of deals for early 2022 is the best the organization has ever seen.

“If you look at the main metrics we’re measuring – our performance, job creation and new payroll, project capital investment and total number of projects – we’ve already broken the all-time record of JobsOhio for each of these metrics. so far this year, “he said.

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