By DAVID SKOLNICK
VINDICATOR POLITICS WRITER
CHAMPION -- To move the state's economy forward, Ohio must create an atmosphere to attract high-tech companies while doing all it can to protect manufacturing, according to Gov. Bob Taft.
"That's why we're working across the board; a full-court press," Taft said Thursday. "We're working on preserving our existing manufacturing units. We're working with the steel industry. We're investing in new development ... so we can create the advanced manufacturing jobs."
Taft used Delphi Packard Electric Systems' Component and Systems Evaluation Test Center in Champion near the Kent State Trumbull Campus as an example of "the kind of economy we want to build in the future."
The Delphi facility, which employs 163 people, was the last of six visits by Taft Wednesday and Thursday throughout the state to bring attention to his $1.6 billion technology and job-creation plan he introduced Tuesday in his State of the State address.
His "Third Frontier Project" calls for research centers to be built and to increase partnerships between colleges and businesses to convert university research into commercial ventures.
The plan seeks funding over the next decade with $500 million in the two-year capital budgets to pay for research centers, another $500 million for research and development from the state's Biomedical Research Fund and the Technology Action Fund, and $100 in bonds issued by the state backed by liquor profits to finance high-growth industries.
Bond issue: The remaining $500 million would require a statewide bond issue to recruit researchers and financial projects.
"We want to make sure the state is a good partner in stimulating and spurring improvements in the latest technology so that we can continue to keep these excellent manufacturing jobs in Ohio," Taft said outside the Packard facility.
The governor said the state will do whatever it can to save manufacturing jobs.
Balancing act: It's a delicate balancing act between developing new businesses and preserving the existing ones, Taft said.
"We have to look at the emerging industries of the future," he said. "We have to strengthen our advanced manufacturing base. We also have to do what we can to preserve the jobs that we have in the steel and other industries. Those are good jobs held by people who are trying to support their families. We care about them and we want to help out whenever we possibly can."
Taft said the federal corruption trial of U.S. Rep. James A. Traficant Jr., a Poland Democrat, has no impact on whether companies decide to locate in the Mahoning Valley.
"I don't think who's in office and who's not in office is really the key," he said. "Business folks are focused on the business climate here in Ohio."