July 19, 2011
Ohio Gov. John Kasich visits Chamber
Ohio Governor John Kasich visited the Chamber on Thursday, July 14 and presented a spirited summary and defense of his first six months in office. The Governor was in a celebratory mood and he effusively credited and praised his administrative team and the teamwork that helped him develop and pass one of the most significant state budgets in Ohio’s history. This was the Governor’s third substantive meeting with Cincinnati Chamber members. His presence at the Chamber was part of a state-wide outreach to trumpet not only the conclusion of the budget but, just as importantly, to stress that the opportunities within the budget set the stage for the “sun to rise again over Ohio,” the phrase the Governor used to characterize the newly shaped policy foundations expected to spark Ohio’s economic rebound, expansion and continued progress.
The Governor addressed more than 60 Chamber members, an audience that included small business leaders and members of the Chamber board. Just as importantly, the audience included seven members from the Ohio House and Senate, including Senate President Tom Niehaus. Significantly, this was a dynamic session among participants. Following his opening remarks and a detailed recounting of his administration’s accomplishments, the Governor opened the session to audience questions. Next, he asked Sen. Niehaus to address the group, an invitation that, at the same time, recognized and complimented Sen. Niehaus’ partnership as well as the Senate’s commitment to fundamental budgetary and policy reform. Finally, the Governor, opening the leadership circle even wider, asked all Senators and Representatives present to speak. For chamber members, Thursday’s meeting proved an unprecedented opportunity to be part of a session foretelling significant new directions for Ohio.
In his remarks, the Governor covered a range of issues, from school system reform to local government reform to the new energy and focus he will demand from JobsOhio, the economic development entity created from the Department of Development. The Governor said that the individuals leading these new initiatives will be judged by results, and held accountable for decisions and actions. He said that examples are already emerging of the benefits possible from government reform. He cited a small school system in Green, OH, a system that moved its administrative offices into the municipal building, thereby avoiding the expense of separate headquarters. He noted that Summit County now has one health department, a move with county-wide programmatic benefits that also saves money. He told how the budget commits $20 million and then $30 million for new workforce training, an effort to close the gap between workers’ skills and the demands from Ohio’s employers. He promised a focus on manufacturing and the economic benefits that result from investments in the manufacturing sector. For example, he cited new activities emerging from investments associated with Wright-Patterson, particularly the efforts to research, develop and then manufacture unmanned aircraft. He mentioned his hope to develop an Ohio medical “corridor,” an intellectual and commercial swath that will take advantage of world-class health care and research facilities that run from Cleveland to Cincinnati. Finally, alluding to the wide sweep of change that has been set in motion he commented that “if we’ve gone too far we’ll go back and fix it. I don’t govern with a vendetta.”
Questions from the audience referenced best ways to spark innovation in Ohio and the necessity to keep and maintain a range of school systems and school choices. The Governor and Sen. Niehaus responded that the Third Frontier would continue to expand Ohio’s commitment to scientific and technical advances that benefited Ohio. They described new allocations and allowances for all schools in Ohio, new directions that would drive top performance or, for failing schools, pull resources. Another question referenced the need for skilled workers – in this case welders – and the Governor referenced new opportunities for vocational training and new expectations for vocational schools across the state to share programs and best practices so that benefits develop quickly and throughout the state.
In closing, the Governor advised the audience members: “don’t hide,” stay engaged. He complimented the Cincinnati Chamber’s leadership for its commitment to staying involved in the ongoing development of issues critical to its business members and Ohio’s business climate.
For more information on how you can become part of the Chamber’s government affairs programs and activities, call Matt Davis, 513-579-3143, or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org.