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Why do we have an Ohio Department of Development?

Ohio Public Radio had an interesting story on the Ohio Department of Development [1]– which is also missing a director. Unfortunately, they don’t have a full transcript- and you have to listen to hear the whole report:

Ohio has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs in the last few years, and the state’s unemployment rate has soared to levels not seen in a quarter of a century. But the state still has no permanent director of the agency that’s charged with job creation and development.

via Statehouse News Bureau [2].

This is an expensive boondoggle- in the report, Rich Vedder [3] Professor of Economics at Ohio University, would abolish the whole thing- claiming that the $971 Million dollar budget is a waste and that it costs the State $200,000 per job created.

Before the era of big government, we used to depend on the private sector Chambers of Commerce to do much of this work. It was unethical for tax dollars to be redistributed to private corporations, and our politicians weren’t barraged by lobbyists writing the laws to benefit their minders.

It’s departments exactly like this one, in Georgia, that recruited and bought NCR away from Dayton. A nationwide ban on this practice, at all levels should be the next Constitutional amendment.

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Lobbyists writing legislation? There’s nothing new to this practice.
I became city editor of the Van Wert Times Bulletin after two years on the best newspaper in the United States, the Daily Standard in Celina. I attended the first Van Wert city council meeting and was flabbergasted. A motion was introduced by title only and immediately passed by the entire council. I asked the mayor what the motion was about and he deferred to a representative of the East Ohio Gas Company, who then read the ordinance in full. It raised the rates for gas in the city of Van Wert as well as all of Van Wert County. The rest of the county thus had its utility rate raised without so much as a wink.
The gas company had written the ordinance and presented it to a meeting of a council committee.
I grew to hate the way things were done in Van Wert.
And the man representing the owners of the paper would not permit my story about this to appear in the paper.
I did not last long as city editor, especially after the city seemed to be celebrating the assassination of President Kennedy.

Civil Servants are People, too

The job losses are mostly from manufacturing, and that is a global issue.   Pretty much every state lost jobs in the recession.  No state government can do much to stop that.   To blame one particular department is a red herring at best.
Just to clarify, DOD was run by the Lt. Gov until he began his new campaign for Senate….
They administer several effective and respected programs including  historic tax credits and CleanOhio, both of which primarily benefit urban areas like Montgomery County.   They also have a loan program and tax credits for creating actual jobs, which both have net benefits to Ohio.
The only program that is really controversial is the grant program, and they save that for the really big companies like, well, NCR.   They need those grants to have any chance to compete with all the other states that do the same thing.   Until there is a Federal response to that issue, Ohio would be foolish to be the first one to cut those programs.
So to say they spend $200,000 per job is likely  misleading because they  are probably counting all those programs that have ancillary benefits to our communities, like cleaning up our environment or saving historic buildings.
No chamber of commerce can do that.