Put JobsOhio to work for people, not corporations
Posted May 07, 2020 in Press Releases
For the most part, Ohio’s privatized economic development agency uses funds from the state’s liquor operations to give businesses tax breaks and subsidies. A new report by Policy Matters Ohio outlines how JobsOhio can help rebuild Ohio after the COVID-19 pandemic by making sure everyone benefits from the recovery.
Created in 2011 by Gov. John Kasich, JobsOhio is a separate 501(c)(4) non-profit organization controlled by a board of directors appointed by the governor. It is part of a $2.2 billion entity that administers and is funded by the state’s liquor operations, which it purchased to use for 25 years under a franchise agreement with the state. It uses those funds to attract and retain employers. JobsOhio negotiates with businesses for significant state resources – like the $108 million Job Creation Tax Credit. JobsOhio has largely relied on the unproductive strategy of competing against other states by offering generous subsidies, often to large corporations such as Sherwin-Williams and Amazon. Last month, even though it received $50 million in grants from JobsOhio, PTTGC America-Daelim Chemical USA partnership said it is delaying plans to build an ethane processing plant in Ohio.
“Research shows that in the majority of cases, companies have decided where to go or expand before the bids are in,” Policy Matters Senior Project Director, Wendy Patton said. “The COVID-19 crisis and the economic slowdown it has caused demand a different strategy.”
With 1 million people out of work and many businesses closed, state and local governments are missing out on tax revenues that fund schools, roads, public health and much more. The governor can ask the JobsOhio board to use unobligated and reserve funds to help with the budget crisis. If funds are left over it can also invest in putting Ohioans directly back to work:
- Fund a job corps that puts people to work making homes more energy efficient and safe for children by removing toxic lead.
- Boost the public health work force through a job corps that provides expanded testing, contact tracing and other important services for as long as needed.
- Expand Ohio’s broadband capacity in underserved areas so no Ohioan is left behind.
- Focus resources to support minority owned businesses in the communities where people have been hit hardest by the pandemic and recession.
“JobsOhio may be a private entity, but it is funded by the proceeds of an operation of the state,” Patton said. “It has used those resources mostly for the benefit of wealthy corporations. In the face of a pandemic and recession, JobsOhio needs to change course and put the people of Ohio first.”
Policy Matters Ohio is a nonprofit, nonpartisan state policy research institute
with offices in Cleveland and Columbus.