Getting Ohioans Back to Work

Guest Column written by State Representative Jeff McClain
The last year has been a busy one in the state legislature, but I am confident that the long hours are yielding positive results. From the beginning of the 129th General Assembly, House Republicans have been committed to reassessing the government’s role in the private sector in order to spark economic growth in Ohio.

In the past year, you may have heard of a new non-profit entity known as JobsOhio, which was established in House Bill 1 early last year. The objective of JobsOhio is to encourage business growth in Ohio by finding innovative ways to make the state’s economy more attractive to entrepreneurs and job creators. In 2011, this entity was involved in 245 projects, including working with business owners in Ohio, as well as throughout the country interested in relocating. Although 38 out of 40 House Democrats opposed House Bill 1, JobsOhio has created or retained nearly 83,000 jobs and triggered more than $3.3 billion in new capital investment.

Last month, Ohio’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.0 percent to 8.5 percent. The three counties in the 82nd House District also experienced drastic drops in their unemployment rates—Crawford County 11.2 to 9.9; Marion County 9.4 to 8.5; and Wyandot County 9.3 to 8.2. These statistics are clear indications that jobs are returning to the area, and I expect even more economic growth in 2012.

Throughout 2011, House Republicans looked for ways to remove government obstacles from the private sector. In March, Governor Kasich signed House Bill 58 to incentivize businesses to maintain their workforce and investments. Companies with 1,000 employees or more are eligible to receive a job retention tax credit if they agree to make $25 million in capital improvements over three consecutive years.

Although much of our attention has been devoted to lowering Ohio’s tax burden on businesses, the legislature has also been focused on reevaluating the regulations that affect these companies on a daily basis. House Bill 94 established the Common Sense Initiative to analyze the impact that state regulations have on small businesses and will assist businesses that have difficulty remaining compliant with ever-changing regulations. Additionally, the initiative will propose ways to improve the state’s regulatory code, which in many cases means eliminating costly, unnecessary or redundant rules and restrictions.

During the economic downturn of the past three years companies have left Ohio, either in search for more profitable opportunities elsewhere or shut down altogether. The mass exodus of businesses and jobs left behind a large number of vacant buildings. Therefore, in December, the House passed a bill that provides a vacant property tax incentive to expanding businesses. Under House Bill 18, businesses that are out of space, adding new employees and seeking to relocate to a bigger facility will be encouraged to move into a previously vacant building. Often, areas with numerous vacant buildings have high unemployment rates, but also a large number of people looking for work. Businesses moving to these areas can help boost employment in communities that need it the most.

I proudly supported these pieces of legislation, as well as many others, because they will help Ohio become more competitive and attractive to businesses. Job creation has been, and will continue to be, the top priority for House Republicans. After seeing the progress that the legislature has made in the past year, I have no doubt that Ohio is headed in the right direction. While many challenges still exist, remaining committed to working Ohioans and to private businesses is the key for building a strong, successful Ohio for years to come.

Rep. McClain may be reached by calling (614) 644-6265, e-mailing District82@ohr.state.oh.us, or by writing to State Representative Jeff McClain, at 77 S. High St., 11th Floor, Columbus, OH 43215.

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