“The head of JobsOhio acknowledged that the state’s private economic development corporation had seen slower-than-desired growth in new jobs last year”
With former Kasich senior economic adviser and JobsOhio head Mark Kvamme speaking on the economy in Cleveland tonight, here’s a look back at recent articles on Kasich’s and JobsOhio’s failure to jump start Ohio’s economy for small businesses and middle class families.
The head of JobsOhio acknowledged that the state’s private economic development corporation had seen slower-than-desired growth in new jobs last year but said deals in the pipeline it has not yet completed will boost the numbers for 2014.
“Some of our numbers were slightly down,” JobsOhio president John Minorsaid in a meeting with Business Courier staffers. “I think we had a good year in 2013. But it slowed everywhere.”
In 2012, 21,099 new jobs were created in Ohio with the agency’s help compared with 17,857 in 2013. But the agency improved its showing in terms of retained jobs – keeping 70,449 in 2013 compared with 54,633 in 2012.
A column by Rep. Denise Driehaus charged that the agency wasn’t working as promised when Gov. John Kasich created it in 2011.
“JobsOhio fared worse in more than half of the metrics by which they judge their success,” Driehaus wrote.
Minor said both brand-new jobs and retained jobs are important to consider, and the agency performed better in the fourth quarter of 2013 than it did in the other three quarters and the fourth quarter of 2012.
“We’ve got to make sure we protect what we have,” he said, saying that 350,000 jobs left the state prior to Kasich taking office.
He cited several reasons Ohioans could expect JobsOhio to have a better year in 2014:
Now in its third full year of operation, JobsOhio is still building itself, Minor said, comparing it to a child’s ability to crawl, walk then run. JobsOhio is in the walking stage, he said.
“We’re still building the culture of JobsOhio,” he said. “We still have not seen the full impact of JobsOhio.”
The agency has deals in the pipeline that did not move forward in 2013 that should come to fruition this year.
“We’re going to win more than our fair share,” Minor said.
The state’s financial stability is getting notice, including its $1.5 billion surplus. “It adds predictability,” he said.
Revenue from the state’s liquor business, from which JobsOhio now reaps the profits.
Such funding gives the agency the “ability to look at things from a long-term basis,” Minor said, unlike other state economic development agencies, which may not have a consistent and dependable revenue stream.
Renewed attention to bringing in new companies from outside Ohio or creating new ones within the state. “We had not had a lot of focus on the new company, business creation side,” he said.
By Mark Williams
The Pittsburgh-based bank’s spring survey, released this morning, found that 48 percent of business owners expect sales to increase and 37 percent say profits will go up in the next six months. Both figures are better than in the bank’s spring and fall surveys last year.
Further, the report found 28 percent of business owners optimistic about their company’s prospects in the coming six months, better than the 22 percent that said so in the fall survey and the 21 percent polled last spring. The new survey found 13 percent called themselves pessimistic, down from 20 percent in the fall.
Despite the growing optimism, only 10 percent of the business owners said they plan to add full-time employees in the months ahead. That’s down from 2013; 14 percent polled in last spring’s survey planned hiring, as did 17 percent in the fall survey.
PNC economist Mekael Teshome said a couple of factors that weighed on businesses last year — the federal government shutdown and increasing taxes — were absent this time around.
“Now those are being lifted, so sentiment is improving,” Teshome said. “We also are seeing an improved sales outlook as well.”
Teshome acknowledged that the optimism doesn’t extend to hiring.
While the economy has been out of recession for a few years, a series of events including the Arab Spring, the Japanese tsunami, higher tax rates and last fall’s government shutdown have been a drag on businesses. As a result, they remain slow to hire, he said.
“Caution is really the accumulation of four (or) five years of volatility and a rather slow recovery,” he said. “That’s not going to turn around immediately, and businesses are more or less playing it safe.”
Teshome said 2014 should be better for the economy. No major tax increases are in the offing, the global economy is performing better, and consumer and business balance sheets are stronger, he said.
Area enterprises that participated in the survey say their business has gotten stronger.
At family owned Conte Remodelers, which operates primarily in the Marion and Delaware areas, customers are starting to spend money again, said Michael Conte, general manager. And they’re taking on kitchen remodeling and home additions because they want to, he said, not because they have to.
“That’s what was absent in the past, and that’s caused a little more confidence in us,” Conte said.
The effects of an improved economy also are in evidence at Lancaster Pollard Mortgage Co. in Columbus, said Carl Wagner, senior vice president.
The mortgage-banking company, which helps finance projects for apartment complexes, hospitals and assisted-living facilities, has been growing rapidly. Its staff has doubled in the past five years, to about 100, he said. The company even has taken over a second floor of the Downtown office where it is located.
Wagner credited the company’s growth to market conditions, coupled with a more-aggressive sales strategy.
“We’re doing very well,” he said. “Things are stable. Interest rates are stable. That’s always good for us.”