Legislation Would Reform Government and Encourage Ohio Tourism

State Representatives Mike Dovilla (R-Berea) and Christina Hagan (R-Alliance) today introduced legislation in the Ohio House of Representatives that would reform state government and revitalize its job creation efforts. The bill would complete the transition of the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) into the Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA).

ODSA would provide essential services to JobsOhio— the state’s private, non-profit entity created through House Bill 1—including the administration and oversight of loans and tax credits that will further create and expand Ohio businesses. The bill also clarifies the contracts between ODSA and JobsOhio.

“This jobs bill is a key part of our long-term plan to transition Ohio government’s economic development functions from a dated bureaucracy to an efficient, goal-oriented agency. In replacing a Department of Development that is no longer meeting the needs of Ohio’s citizens and businesses with a responsive, job-creating entity—JobsOhio—and a streamlined Development Services Agency, we are acting decisively to restore an economic environment that will help get Ohioans back to work,” Representative Dovilla said.

Specifically, the legislation would:

• Create a pilot program, TourismOhio, to provide a dedicated funding source for tourism marketing;
• Improve access to capital for minority-owned businesses by increasing the amount of financing available; and
• Reform the tax credit process to ensure businesses are not penalized by delays due to the meeting schedule of the Ohio Tax Credit Authority.

“Our goal in creating the Development Services Agency is not only to assist Ohio businesses directly by providing more access to capital, but also to have a system free of red tape that can easily respond to what these business need to be successful—not delay them in the process,” Representative Hagan said. “Some of these reforms are common sense, such as having the CIO of JobsOhio serving on the Third Frontier Commission, Ohio Tax Credit Authority and Tourism Advisory Board because of his or her expertise in Ohio’s economic development efforts.”

The legislation phases out both the Water and Sewer Commission, which has not met or taken action since 2007, and the Development Finance Advisory Council, which currently slows down the process of closing loans. The State Controlling Board will continue to review and authorize such loans.

Additionally, the legislation creates within ODSA the Office of TourismOhio, which will be funded through a five-year pilot program that links funding for TourismOhio to the growth in sales tax revenues of tourism-related industries. The TourismOhio Advisory Board the bill creates will include industry experts to provide guidance and support efforts to promote Ohio tourism.

“This legislation has been a long time coming, and I’m proud of those who have had the foresight to develop such an in-depth plan to boost business development and provide more jobs for Ohio families who so desperately need them,” said Ohio House Speaker William G. Batchelder. “I look forward to working with my colleagues on this important bill and ensuring it will help continue to put Ohio back on the right track.”

The legislation is awaiting a bill number and is expected to receive hearings in the House State Government and Elections Committee during the month of April.


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