We have had an encouraging year with a drop in the unemployment rate and successful results in the arena of job creation. We are moving in the right direction after a series of very financially difficult and unstable years. While the pain of the financial crisis is still able to be felt, the wound is beginning to heal for Ohio. The key to keeping job creation and economic recovery headed in the right direction is developing legislation that is both innovative and resourceful. It is in the spirit of innovation and resourcefulness that I introduced House Bill 18.
H.B. 18 is a bill that accommodates future growth by using resources that Ohio already has in its possession. In recent years, economic hardship has forced businesses both large and small to leave Ohio, abandoning their operating buildings in urban, suburban and rural settings. These buildings sit vacant in areas that are full of citizens that need jobs and are ready to work. Areas with high percentages of vacant properties are also areas that have high unemployment rates.
H.B. 18 gives an incentive to businesses that are out of space, adding new employees and need to relocate. The bill authorizes a $500 per-employee grant for a business that occupies a facility that has been vacant for 12 months, increases its payroll by hiring new employees, and employs either 50 employees or 50 percent of its Ohio employees at the vacant facility. A larger employer, for example, may have thousands of employees nationwide but would only have to locate 50 employees in an abandoned building. For smaller companies expanding their payrolls and needing a larger facility, such as a hair salon, hardware store or pizza parlor, 50 percent of their payroll would have to be added for this bill to take effect. For example, if a hair salon that has six employees needs to add three more hair stylists, this incentive would help pay for an extra three salon chairs or building repairs. Ten employees, perhaps a hardware store, would need to add at least five more employees to manage the added projected sales an expansion into a larger facility would bring. This incentive will give the business owner an incentive to stay in Ohio, or if out of state, come to Ohio and consider locating to a vacant building.
As these vacant buildings begin to be filled and provide jobs to local citizens it will make the local economy more enticing for other businesses to enter. H.B. 18 creates the opportunity to revitalize communities that are in desperate need of economic development. The bill creates an environment in which businesses are able to expand and new jobs are created in communities that are in great need. By occupying previously abandoned buildings, property values increase and therefore local governments and schools receive a higher return on property taxes.
As you can see, with House Bill 18 the benefits come full circle. This bill has the potential to revitalize communities and sets the tone for developing innovative legislative solutions to the task of job creation in the future. The economic multiplier of purchasing foreclosed homes, positive business growth, additional purchases, investment, more employee hires and returning blighted areas into safe neighborhoods – cites back to prosperity – is immeasurable.