Kasich supports Chinese investment in ToledoWritten by Kristen Criswell | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Gov. John Kasich argued the state needs to take a new approach to business and showed support for Chinese investment in Toledo during a recent visit to the city.
At a joint session of the Toledo Chamber of Commerce and the Rotary Club of Toledo on Feb. 7, Kasich spoke bluntly about the problems facing business in the state, including many regulatory obstacles and high taxes.
The governor emphasized that he’d like to make it easier for individuals and companies to do business in the state in order for Ohio to compete with the rest of the country.
“These other states are eating our lunch,” Kasich said. “That’s why I am trying to create JobsOhio to be able to fight back. That’s why I want to balance the budget without taxes.”
JobsOhio is a nonprofit public-private partnership that will promote economic development and eventually phase out the state’s Department of Development. The administration would move all the effective economic programs in Ohio under JobsOhio and would pursue new businesses for the state.
Kasich said bureaucrats are often too slow and the state needs to operate at the “speed of business” to attract business.
JobsOhio would be comprised of a board of business professionals and it will be their job to attract business to Ohio, Kasich said.
“The most effective person to talk to a business person is a business person,” he said. “Business people talking to business people is who gets it done.”
Kasich said he hopes JobsOhio can eventually eliminate funding from the state and be solely from private funds.
Kasich said he’d like JobsOhio to be an organization that can “answer the bell” and work with the potential of a Coke plant or Jeep site.
House Bill 1, which addressed JobsOhio, was passed in the state House without Democrat support.
Democrat Representatives Matt Szollosi and Teresa Fedor both said they have concerns about the transparency of JobOhio, without which the organization is ripe for abuse.
“I have concerns about House Bill 1; for example why limit the inspector general’s authority to investigate wrongdoing and corruption with respect to this new entity? Why wouldn’t we require the state auditor to conduct an annual audit of JobsOhio so taxpayers know how their money is being spent?” Szollosi said. “I hope it works. I would love to see jobs created in the state, but jobs will be created with or without this bill.”
Republican Representative Barbara Sears said House Bill 1 just sets up the parameters of study for House Bill 1 and more will be added later dealing with transparency.
The Senate has the bill and if it passes the House will vote on changes.
In addition to the administration’s JobsOhio effort, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor is working on examining the regulatory laws to make sure they all make sense, Kasich said. He said Taylor is working with different chambers of commerce and the small business community to end the friction of getting business started.
“If you find yourself tripping over the anthills imposed by government on your way to the pyramids, you call or e-mail us,” Kasich said.
While taking questions from the audience, Kasich applauded Mayor Mike Bell’s efforts to sell city property to Chinese investors. Kasich said the mayor and the city should not let the “naysayers win.”
“If we can get significant foreign investment in Toledo … you have to be kidding me if we pass that opportunity up. That would be sinful, because there are a lot of people that would gain from it,” he said.
City Council passed the sale of The Docks property Feb. 8 and the city entered into a memorandum of understanding that morning for investment in the Marina District by the same Chinese investment group.
Kasich also spoke about the charter school movement and the possible privatization of the Ohio Turnpike. In addition, Kasich addressed the $8 million deficit facing the state.
The governor said he doesn’t shudder at the large deficit because it’s something the state has to deal with, without raising taxes.
“We can’t raise taxes to deal with [the deficit] … I don’t want the state to be in a worse competitive situation than we’re already in,” he said.