JobsOhio data show progress, draw criticism
By Burton Speakman
JobsOhio has released figures that indicate Ohio is making progress toward recovering from the recession.
But the entity still has critics who say there is not enough information provided to validate the claims.
Ohio has created 111,300 jobs since January 2011, according to figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statisics.
During this time Ohio’s unemployment went from 9 percent to 7.2 percent.
Locally the unemployment rate for Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties also fell during this time period. Mahoning went from 11.3 percent to 7.9 percent, Trumbull from 11.3 percent to 8.1 percent and Columbiana from 12.1 percent to 8.2 percent between January 2011 and June 2012.
Mark Kvamme, JobsOhio president and interim chief investment officer, said that from April through June of 2012 the efforts of JobsOhio and its economic-development partners yielded commitments of 4,666 new jobs totaling $205 million in new payroll and capital investments of $863 million.
The capital investments will occur during the next three years, said Kristie Cloust, co-director/project manager for JobsOhio.
“Results from this second quarter tell a great story: Jobs are growing across the state and in every sector,” Kvamme said. “One of Ohio’s greatest assets is its industry diversity, which means the economy does not rely on one or two sectors.”
JobsOhio has helped to retain 11,238 jobs, according to JobsOhio figures.
Job retention is calculated through figures provided by companies “that may have been considered relocating or have operations throughout the world and had to make decisions on where to invest and keep jobs,” Cloust said. The numbers are verified using payroll-tax figures.
JobsOhio further predicts its economic-development efforts will yield a return on investment of $6 million after one year, $31 million after three years and $142 million after 10 years.
The returns are based upon income from various taxes paid to the state when that figure becomes larger than the incentives provided to the company, Cloust said.
Out of the companies that have received assistance from JobsOhio, 88 percent will have provided the state more in tax revenue than was given to them in incentives within three years, she said.
One of the biggest criticisms about JobsOhio is that it does not report how much public money was invested, said Tera Goodnight, policy analyst for Innovation Ohio, a progressive think tank.
“They [JobsOhio] list a return on investment of $6 million. If the investment was $6 million, that’s great; but if it’s $600 million, then it’s not very good,” she said. “They simply don’t provide us with that information.”
Another issue is JobsOhio has announced deals with companies that still haven’t appeared in state databases 16 to 18 months later, Goodnight said.
JobsOhio is either reporting the deals well before they have been completed or it is not providing the documentation of agreements required by state law, she said.
There are a lot of people with concerns about the lack of transparency involved in the money used by Jobs-Ohio, said state Rep. Robert F. Hagan of Youngstown, D-60th.
“We’ve got a governor who wants to move at the speed of business,” he said. “He wants to treat government like it’s a money machine.”
People have to remember that government is a service and the checks and balances exist for a reason. A group can get away with a lot more when it doesn’t have the same reporting requirements as government offices, Hagan said.