Continuing their focus on jobs and economic development, members of the Ohio House of Representatives today passed legislation that aims to encourage businesses that are out of space, have a need to add new employees and therefore may need to relocate to a larger place to invest in communities that have been hard-hit by the difficult economy.

House Bill 18, sponsored by State Representative Nan Baker (R-Westlake), authorizes a $500 per-employee grant for a business that expands into a facility that has been vacant for 12 months and creates new jobs. For larger companies expanding their payrolls and moving into a vacant building, at least 50 new employees would have to be added for this bill to take effect. For smaller companies expanding their payrolls, such as a hair salon, hardware store or pizza shop, 50 percent of their payroll would have to be added for this bill to take effect. For example, if a hair salon owner that has six employees needs to add three more hair stylists, this incentive would help pay for that person’s extra three salon chairs or building repairs, or a hardware store that employs 10 employees that hires at least five more employees to manage the added projected sales an expansion into a larger facility would bring.

“Because of a loss of business in Ohio over the past decade, there are many vacant buildings throughout Ohio that are in perfectly good shape but have simply been forced by the economy to shut their doors,” Representative Baker said. “This legislation is intended to allow businesses to expand without having to wait for new construction. It would also support our local businesses and encourage them to reuse abandoned buildings, which would breathe new life into areas that have been affected by job loss.”

Additional provisions in the legislation specify that an employer may receive no more than one grant per newly created job and limits the program to three years to give the Department of Development an opportunity to review the program for its effectiveness. Depending on the economy at the time of review, this bill can be reintroduced. It also authorizes the award of grants from the Facilities Establishment Fund or from unencumbered funds available to any entity performing job creation or other economic development functions for the state.

“I’m very pleased that House Bill 18 passed from the Ohio House with bipartisan support,” Representative Baker said. “This legislation is another example of our creativity towards creating the environment to retain, create and bring jobs to Ohio. It is a significant step toward helping our communities that have suffered the mass exodus of large and small businesses that left behind abandoned and vacant buildings dotting urban, suburban and rural landscapes. New and expanding companies can revitalize these buildings and will be entering economies full of citizens that need jobs and are ready to work. The economic multiplier of positive private sector business growth, additional purchases, investment, more employee hires and returning blighted areas into safe neighborhoods – cities back to prosperity – is immeasurable. As I continue to say ‘It’s All About Jobs!’”

House Bill 18 was originally introduced during the 128th General Assembly as House Bill 437, which was part of the “Future of Ohio” jobs package—a collection of 10 bills that aimed to facilitate economic growth and job creation in Ohio. It passed by a vote of 81-12 will now be sent to the Ohio Senate for further consideration.


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