February 15, 2011
Kasich meets business leaders at Chamber
Three weeks after taking office, Ohio Governor John Kasich and Ohio’s interim director of economic development, Mark Kvamme, met with 60 Chamber Board members and business leaders at the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber.
Kasich and Kvamme spoke for over an hour regarding creating new jobs and fostering a better business climate in the state. They covered a wide range of topics, including Ohio’s competitiveness and economy, CVG, rail, universities, health care, taxes and tech transfer.
“Gov. Kasich has a clear focus on restarting job growth and wants big changes in the state to cut costs and quicken the pace of economic development,” said Ellen van der Horst, the president and CEO of the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. “We look forward to working with him to help these goals come to fruition.”
Kasich said, at a high level, his goal is to restructure the state to provide a better product.
A primary area of focus is the Ohio Department of Development, the state’s top economic development and job-creation agency, which he said is “calcified.” He proposes creating JobsOhio to replace it, a public-private agency to be run by Kvamme, a long-time Kasich friend and California venture capitalist.
JobsOhio would have the ability to make deals with companies using state grants and tax credits to drive job creation and retention efforts. The agency would do most of its work privately with the goal of moving at the speed of business instead of the speed of government.
The change is designed to make Ohio more competitive and able to drive more job growth. At present, the Ohio House has approved the plan and it is expected to receive speedy passage in the Senate.
Kasich also said the state needs to get rid of the red tape that makes it hard for companies to locate here.
“We, at times, can’t seem to get out of our own way with seemingly workable issues such as zoning laws, bureaucracy at different levels of government and turf battles. We can’t do that,” he said.
Gov. Kasich also expressed interest in another focus of the Chamber—improving air service in the region. The governor said he's heard from many top executives that a strong airport is needed for them to remain competitive.
“I think it’s become a global marketplace. You better get this airport fixed. I’ll help you. We can't take no for an answer," he said.
Kasich said he’ll work with Kentucky officials and Ohio Senator Rob Portman to reverse the declining number of flights at CVG. The same sentiment has been previously expressed by Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear.
Kasich acknowledges the great assets of Ohio, but believes the state can improve to advance economic development and drive job creation. He said he needs input from business leaders on what's needed to change the business climate in the state.
"You need to tell me what you need, and I need to remove barriers that get in the way of Cincinnati becoming one of the greatest cities in the world," Kasich said.
The governor said one change that is sorely needed is in the state’s collective attitude to restore a can-do spirit, entrepreneurship and a sense that Ohio can outperform anyone.
"I don’t want to scare anybody. I don’t want to frighten them. But I think Ohio can do a little better and were looking at ways to get that done."
This event opens the opportunity for an ongoing dialogue with Gov. Kasich and his administration. The Chamber will continue this dialogue and continue to advocate on behalf of businesses at the Columbus Drive-In on March 29. For more information, visit CincinnatiChamber.com/advocacy.
View the photo gallery from the Governor Kasich luncheon
Listen to Gov. Kasich's remarks MP3 (1 hr.)