Thursday, July 15, 2010

Proposal by Kearney, Greater Ohio would target state development

Ohio State Sen. Eric Kearney (D-9th) has introduced legislation that he hopes will better focus state spending and spur economic development.

Created in conjunction with non-profit advocacy group Greater Ohio, Senate Bill 284 (S.B. 284) would leverage private sector investments by carefully targeting state resources around Centers of Development, or already proven job creation catalysts such as medical centers and educational institutions.

The cutting edge research and development occurring in these centers contributes significantly to the development of human, social and cultural capital, Kearney said.

"This legislation will support and enhance the good work being done by Governor Strickland and the Ohio Department of Development," he said. "In a time of dwindling state resources we need to ensure our development efforts are having the maximum effect. By focusing state assistance around assets that are already proven job creators we can get the most bang for our buck."

To be considered a Center of Development, one of the following criteria must be met:

  • Designation as a Hub of Innovation and Opportunity by the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD), which is meant to leverage regional resources, attract clusters of connected businesses, and attract an influx of new workers. ODOD plans to name 12-15 Hubs over the next several years.
  • Designation as a Center of Excellence by the Ohio Board of Regents, which better targets higher education resources and eliminates unnecessary competition for resources, students, and faculty among the state's colleges and universities. Dozens of these Centers are expected to be named over the next several years.
  • A medical complex employing more than 5,000 that provides in-patient care and conducts medical research and education.
S.B. 284 also would offer additional consideration for select state incentive programs to business and residential developers looking to locate within two miles of a Center of Development.

Upon passage of the legislation, ODOD, the Ohio Board of Regents, the Ohio Department of Transportation, the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services would be required to report back to the Ohio General Assembly within 90 days with a list of existing programs that could be enhanced or modified to encourage this clustering. A timeline of incentive availability would also be included.

"Cincinnati is full of locations that could be named Centers of Development," Kearney said. "Institutions like UC and Cincinnati Children's Hospital, or research giants like Procter and Gamble would be at the top of the list for designation. A two mile zone around any of these assets would accelerate investment within the city."

An audio clip for Senator Kearney discussing S.B. 284 can seen here.