A strong fourth quarter of new job commitments and capital investments boosted JobsOhio’s overall performance last year and built some momentum for the privatized development agency heading into 2014, a JobsOhio spokesman says.
Matt Englehart characterized the agency’s annual report for 2013 in a post to the agency’s website late Monday. The report showed fewer projects, new job commitments and new payroll dollars secured by JobsOhio in 2013 than in 2012, even though last year was the first that the agency had control of the state’s wholesale liquor-revenue stream to use for development.
JobsOhio, created by Republican Gov. John Kasich and the GOP-controlled legislature in 2011 to better attract businesses to Ohio and help in-state companies expand, finished last year with nearly $179 million in assets and having secured commitments for 17,857 new jobs and
$739 million in payroll for the state. In 2012, JobsOhio secured promises from companies to create about 21,000 jobs worth $915 million in new payroll.
But in the last quarter of 2013, JobsOhio outperformed itself in all of its key measures compared with the third quarter of 2013 and the final quarter of 2012: new job commitments, total jobs promised or “retained” and payroll associated with those jobs. Also, the number of new projects JobsOhio is working on grew by 41 percent over 2012.
“Our project pipeline is larger than it has ever been, which means we have more opportunities to help attract investment and jobs to our state,” Englehart said.
In an emailed statement, Democratic state Rep. Mike Foley of Cleveland said, “Gov. Kasich’s JobsOhio is a contradiction in terms.” He cited the statistic often cited by Democrats, that Ohio ranked 45th in the U.S. last year for job growth as a percentage of the state’s workforce, and said the “JobsOhio report further illustrates the raw deal that Ohio taxpayers are getting while they continue to fund the governor’s pet project.”
There are some key differences between JobsOhio’s numbers and the government numbers that come out each month to measure job growth and unemployment. JobsOhio tries to secure new job “ commitments” from companies, which often get a period of years to generate a certain number of new jobs in return for JobsOhio aid or a state-sponsored financial aid package with JobsOhio’s help.
JobsOhio only recently began offering its own aid packages to companies, and the report showed that the agency spent $400,000 on aid to two companies last year. That spending is expected to ramp up significantly this year and will be accounted for on the agency’s website.
The report showed JobsOhio spent $1.75 million on salaries and benefits and more than $1.3 million for professional services.
By Joe Vardon - The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio (MCT)
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