Advocacy for Economic Development

Executive Summary
Economic Development in Ohio:
Policy Suggestions from the Ohio Economic Development Association

March, 2015

The Ohio Economic Development Association (OEDA) represents over 400 economic development professionals from throughout the state. OEDA members represent public, private and nonprofit practitioners and stakeholders in economic development.

OEDA has appreciated the high priority that Governor Kasich, his Administration and the General Assembly have placed on economic development in Ohio. We look forward to working collaboratively with the Governor, JobsOhio, the Development Services Agency and the General Assembly to advance these important priorities. We believe that the Administration’s efforts to realign economic development in the state have been extremely helpful in causing the state to remain at the forefront of national and international economic development.

The OEDA Board of Directors, based upon active discussion and survey of its members around the state, have identified five key issues that we believe should be economic development priorities for 2015:

1)     Workforce Skill Development - Our highest priorities (and a growing nationwide challenge) are ensuring both that businesses have access to a skilled labor force that meet their needs today and that our education and work force development systems prepare Ohioans for the work skills needed in the future.  Specifically we note:

a)     The highly utilized Ohio Incumbent Workforce Training Voucher Program has been an important addition to the toolkit and merits increased funding and flexibility. We encourage making the program more accessible to smaller companies around Ohio.

b)     We support continued and expanded JobsOhio investment for Project-based, Industry Workforce Training Programs.  We recommend state matching funds for local training initiatives for targeted JobsOhio industries.

c)     Proper use of the federal Workforce Investment and Opportunity Act (WIOA) is important for developing a workforce system that uses sector partnerships, career pathways, cross-program data and measurement, and job-driven investments to prepare a skilled workforce that meets employers’ needs.

d)     We welcome the efforts by the Governor’s Office of Workforce Transformation to Coordinate and Streamline the various workforce programs. We appreciate the work to make a user friendly site for both businesses and job seekers.

Investment in Infrastructure - Businesses are highly mobile and only grow where they find prerequisite infrastructure for growth.  Investment in basic and project-specific infrastructure is critical for Ohio businesses to grow and stay globally competitive.  Specifically:

a)     Existing programs supporting project specific infrastructure investment through JobsOhio, ODOT and DSA should be supported and, if possible, receive additional funding.  OEDA recommends creation of a focused set of tools and funding to encourage the development of Shovel-Ready Sites.  Such a program could match local resources to develop strategic business sites, for which we also encourage an effective shovel-ready site certification program.

b)     OEDA supports the Ohio Department of Transportation studies of ways to stabilize roadway investment, along with continued support for alternative modes of transportation. We support reasonable efforts to expand the financing options for transportation needs, including tax increment financing, bonds, community authorities, and the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB).  OEDA supports continuation and enhancement of efforts to increase infrastructure investment in Rural Ohio and Appalachia.


3)     Support for Business Retention and Expansion (BRE) - Most new jobs created in communities come from the expansion of existing businesses. To that end, we encourage JobsOhio to provide BRE funding support for the network partners and recommend the increased engagement with local economic development organizations in this activity. We believe that strong incumbent workforce programs need to be an integral part of BRE efforts.


4)     Revitalization Programs - Many of Ohio’s cities and town suffer from decaying properties in their core. Left unabated the decay can spread.  OEDA strongly supports programs that catalyze reinvestment in key properties, which can become cornerstones for urban renewal.  Specifics:

a)     We encourage continued program flexibility, expedited decision-making and linking state awards to leveraged dollars and job creation.

b)     OEDA recommends more funding for redevelopment of contaminated sites.  We suggest that a prioritization of sites should be based upon the reuse potential, such as availability of critical infrastructure (roadways, utilities, etc.).

c)     OEDA encourages the JobsOhio Revitalization Fund be more flexible. We believe that the requirement for job commitments and known-end users before funding may be impractical and that the strong focus on loan funds might be reconsidered.


5)     Support for Small Business - Much of Ohio’s economic growth is based on small businesses.  Most new jobs are created in fast growing small businesses, and many small businesses provide critical support to larger employers in the state. We support the continued funding and prioritization of small business growth programs, including Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), affordable loans and bonding programs for small businesses, including minority and women owned businesses. We commend Director Goodman in his efforts to coordinate activities and link SBDCs to the economic development system. We encourage the state to assist SBDCs in meeting the needs of small businesses in rural and small communities.

OEDA offers its time and expertise to Governor Kasich, his Administration and the 131st General Assembly in the development of specific programs and policies to address these priorities.  Thank you.

CLICK HERE to read the OEDA Policy Paper in its entirety

For more information on OEDA please contact:

Sean Hughes, OEDA President
City of Delaware, Economic Development Director

Mark Barbash, OEDA Co-Chair, Legislative Affairs
Finance Fund, Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives

Jamie Beier-Grant, OEDA Co-Chair, Legislative Affairs
Ottawa County CIC, Director  

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