Ohio’s economy ended the year 2011 on a positive note. It appears that jobs are filtering back into the state and that we are becoming more competitive on a national scale. This is a positive indication that businesses are hiring and that Ohioans are returning to work.

The state’s unemployment rate dropped from 9.0 percent in October to 8.5 percent in November, the largest decrease from one month to the next for nearly 30 years. Ohio’s unemployment rate is now lower than the national average. This is surely welcomed news for a state that has been one of the hardest hit in the nation during the economic recession of the last few years.

It was apparent from the beginning of the General Assembly that Ohio was in desperate need of jobs. In response to this need, the House passed JobsOhio, a non-profit program dedicated to making Ohio more business-friendly and, thus, more competitive with other states. It was the first of many jobs-related bills to pass through the House. The impact that JobsOhio has made just in the first year has been astounding, and I believe that the creation of jobs in 2012 will be more robust and will occur more rapidly than it did this year.

Sometimes regulations look good on paper, but prove ineffective and unnecessary in the real world. An expanding regulatory climate not only places unwieldy, job-killing restraints on businesses, but the enforcement of such duplicative rules places additional costs on taxpayers. The Common Sense Initiative, also passed early in 2011, will comb through state regulations in an effort to eliminate repetitive rules and restraints.

While a number of businesses left Ohio over the past few years, many of the facilities that once housed those businesses have remained, resulting in hundreds of vacant buildings. Last month, the legislature sought to solve this problem by passing House Bill 18. Under the bill a businesses seeking to expand and relocate will receive a tax incentive. This will not only encourage businesses to stay in Ohio, but also to utilize existing facilities in areas that were hit hardest during the economic downturn.

Throughout 2011, I have had the opportunity to meet with various business owners in the 99th House District, an experience that has been invaluable to me as a legislator. They have shared with me their ideas and concerns about getting Ohio’s economy back on track. I believe that together we have made a lot of progress this year, and I am excited about the future. Please feel welcome to share your ideas with me as we move into 2012.


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