Effort launched to renew Ohio Third Frontier ProgramWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
Two state representatives joined business leaders in announcing efforts to renew and expand the Ohio Third Frontier Program.
Matt Szollosi is a co-sponsor of a joint resolution to place a renewal and expansion of the Ohio Third Frontier Program on the May 4 primary election ballot. It would seek approval for issuance of $1 billion in additional general obligation bonds over five years to fund further job creation with that program.
The original Third Frontier Program approved by voters in 2002 is a 10-year, $1.6 billion bond issuance that allows for targeted support of technology companies that diversify and accelerate Ohio’s knowledge-based economy.
The Third Frontier Program has created 41,300 jobs in the past seven years with more than $2.4 billion in employee wages and benefits, according to an independent evaluation conducted by the Stanford Research Institute. An investment of $681 million of state funds resulted in $6.6 billion of statewide economic impact, according to the report for a 10 to one return on investment for taxpayers.
Funding from Ohio Third Frontier has had similar results in Northwest Ohio with a six to one return on investment. A total of $35 million in co-investments, federal grant awards and sales revenue will be generated by the end of 2009, according to the Regional Growth Partnership (RGP).
Greg Knudson, vice president of RGP and director of its Rocket Ventures fund, attended the Nov. 30 meeting in Columbus, representing Northwest Ohio. Rocket Ventures is an Entrepreneurial Signature Program of the Ohio Third Frontier, Knudson said.
RGP and Rocket Ventures has helped commercialize and start up 60 new companies in Northwest Ohio that have created several hundred new high-tech jobs in the region. It has awarded 26 Ignite development grants up to $50,000 each to companies, according to Knudson.
Rocket Ventures has made eight major investments in companies in 2009 and has seven more investments under consideration, Knudson said. It recently invested $250,000 each in three startup companies, including Branam Healthcare, Nextronex and Turning Point.
Rep. Barbara Sears supports the Third Frontier Program, but doesn’t understand the rush to put it on the ballot next May when funding for the current program doesn’t expire until 2012.
Other local representatives Edna Brown and Peter Ujvagi were expected to co-sponsor the resolution, according to the Speaker of the House’s office, but could not be reached to confirm their support of the proposal.