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EACC Behind the Scenes - March 2018

Southwest Ohio Advocacy Day 2018

I was one of some 70 participants in the second annual “Southwest Ohio Advocacy Day” event organized by Jason Kershner and the Government Affairs team at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.  It was great to be there with ten other EACC member companies and organizations including:
  • Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport
  • Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber
  • Development Strategies Group/Government Strategies Group
  • Duke Energy
  • Festo Corporation
  • Fifth Third Bank
  • Greater Cincinnati Foreign Trade Zones
  • Miami University
  • Proctor & Gamble
  • University of Cincinnati
At 6:00 a.m. on the morning of March 21, we got the e-mail that despite the snowfall the trip was on, and so at 7:00 a.m. we met the bus in Blue Ash and at 7:15 a.m. pulled on to I-71 for the trek to Columbus.  We arrived at 9:00 a.m. and assembled in the Atrium of the statehouse to begin the program with coffee and pastries, as well as words of welcome from local legislators Senator Lou Terhar (R-8th Ohio State Senate District) and Representative Bill Seitz (R-30th State House District and Majority Floor Leader).  Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber President Jill Meyer also welcomed the group and introduced the SW Ohio legislators who were present to welcome us including Senators Bill Coley (R-4th); Joe Uecker (R-14th) and Representatives Brigid Kelley (D-31st); George Lang (R-52nd); Jonathan Deaver (R-28th); Alecia Reese (D-33); Wes Retherford (R-51st), and Catherine Ingram (D-32nd).
Then began a remarkable series of presentations by various candidates for statewide office to include:
  • Keith Faber, current State Representative (R-84th) and candidate for Auditor of State
  • Dave Yost, Current State Auditor and candidate for Secretary of State
  • Representative Fred Strahorn (D-39th), House Minority Leader
  • Representative Nickie Antonio (D-13rd), speaking about her proposed legislation to guarantee protections for LGBTQI residents of Ohio as a way to remain competitive and to attract and retain a global workforce
  • Representative Ryan Smith (R-93rd and Chair of House Finance Committee), who spoke to the Capital Spending Legislation that was being considered during our visit
  • Kristen Schlotman – not a legislator but Executive Director for Film Cincinnati, which generates not only positive ‘buzz’ for Cincinnati around the world but also generates over $2 dollars in revenue for every $1 of tax credit offered
  • Representative Robert Sprague (R-83rd), Candidate for Ohio State Treasurer
  • Senator Larry Obhof (R-22nd, Senate President), who noted that Ohio is objectively one of the most ‘over-regulated’ states in the Union
  • Senator Kenny Yuko (D-25th, Senate Minority Leader) who spoke about the need to ensure we have adequate funding for infrastructure and public transportation
  • Senator Frank LaRose (R-27th), Candidate for Secretary of State
  • Representative Scott Ryan (R-71st) and Senator Scott Oelslager (R-29th), Sponsors for the Capital Spending Bill
  • Nathan Estruth (R, Candidate for Lt. Governor and running mate with current Lt. Governor and Gubernatorial Candidate Mary Taylor)
  • David Goodman, Director of the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA), who addressed (inter alia)
    • Opportunity Zones and Opportunity Funds as created by the Federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2018 --  ODSA has submitted its list of recommended sites to the Treasury Department based on input from across the state; still waiting for clearer guidance from Treasury as to how it will select and approve sites and how Opportunity Funds will be implemented
    • Historic Preservation Tax Credits
    • Third Frontier Commission – still has about 5 or 6 years to go with existing funds to support digital and life-science innovation
  • Clarence Mingo, Franklin County Auditor (who spoke on behalf of Mike DeWine and John Husted, Republican candidates for Governor and Lt. Governor) (and who declined to answer my question whether a DeWine administration would allocate additional funding for vocational and technical training)
  • Dennis Kucinich (D), Candidate for Governor (who in response to my question said that he wanted to fund two years of post-secondary school training – at a college or technical school – for Ohio high school graduates).
  • Richard Cordray (D), Candidate for Governor
  • Zack Space (D), Candidate for Auditor of State
  • Senator Joe Schiavone (D-33rd), Candidate for Governor
For brevity’s sake, I won’t go into details about each presentation, but I can tell you that some of the most frequently mentioned topics included workforce, the opioid crisis, infrastructure spending, public transportation, and the capital spending bill (which the Senate passed during our visit by a vote of 32-1).  I will also add that while I was pleased to hear that our workforce challenges are gaining lots of attention, I was personally disappointed in the actions lawmakers were considering to address the problems – I found very little substance behind their ideas.  
But most importantly we were able to voice our concerns and raise our questions directly, making sure that the voice of SW Ohio businesses are being heard in Columbus.  I’d strongly encourage you to consider joining the third “Southwest Ohio Advocacy Day” when it is held next year.

- Todd

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