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Is State Dept. Bringing Biz, Jobs To Ohio?

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Is State Dept. Bringing Biz, Jobs To Ohio?

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By Donna Willis
Web Content Coordinator
Published: March 30, 2009


COLUMBUS, Ohio—Ohio’s Department of Development is charged with making Ohio a great place to do business.
Critics, though, have claimed the department hasn’t done enough to keep track of the jobs created by tax breaks and benefits.
NBC 4’s Tanya Hutchins reported on who is watching where your money is going.
When Skybus Airlines took off in May 2007, the new company received tax credits and government incentives. Skybus promised to create 1,000 jobs.
Although the airline declared bankruptcy less than a year after its launch, government officials said these are the types of businesses they’re trying to attract to make Ohio globally competitive.
“We’re trying to grow the industries that are our strengths. For example here in Central Ohio, the logistics and distribution industry is very strong. So, we’re trying to grow that particular industry, for example, down around Rickenbacker,“ Ohio Department of Development Director Mark Barbash said.
The Buckeye Institute analyzes public policy in Ohio and said the department doesn’t track how many jobs these companies actually create using development funds.
“If these businesses aren’t creating those jobs, that really indicates that this is a waste of taxpayer money, and the only way you can know if the money is being wasted or not is if you systematically track how the money is spent,“ Policy Analyst Marc Kilmer said.
Barbash said his department does have a system in place.
“For each loan, grant, tax credit that we issue, we do a contract. The contract is very specific as to the investment that they’re gonna make: the job creation, retention that they promise. We go back every year, and we talk to the company. We identify the investments that have been made,“ Barbash said.
NetJets promised 730 jobs last year.
In its Job Creation Tax Credit annual report, the company said it actually created 1,200 jobs, surpassing its commitment to the state.
If companies don’t hold up their end of the bargain, the state gets its money back through what they call claw backs.
Even so, Kilmer said the department of development isn’t necessary.
“Job creation doesn’t come from the government. It comes from private individuals and private businesses, and so to be truly accountable and stop wasting taxpayer money, the department of development should be eliminated,“ Kilmer said.
With no plans to disband, the department said it will keep trying to make it easier for businesses to operate in Ohio and part of that means making it affordable.
 
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