State Representative Cheryl Grossman (R-Grove City) yesterday attended a press conference at the Ohio Statehouse to discuss the introduction of House Bill 489, legislation that will reform the Ohio Department of Development in order to continue revitalizing Ohio’s job creation efforts.

When enacted, House Bill 489 will complete the transition from the Ohio Department of Development to the Ohio Development Services Agency (DSA). The legislation will revitalize Ohio’s job creation efforts by providing 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.

Additionally, the legislation creates within DSA 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.

“I am pleased to be part of creating a reliable, sustainable tourism model that is an investment in Ohio jobs,” said Representative Grossman, who cosponsored House Bill 489 and is the chair of the Travel and Tourism Caucus. “I am happy to join my colleagues in the Ohio Legislature in cosponsoring this results-oriented legislation that would fund Ohio tourism based upon the business tourism brings to Ohio.”

In general, the tourist industry accounts for 439,000 jobs, the fourth largest industry in the state. Tourism promotion is an investment that renders a quantifiable return to Ohio, bringing $2.6 billion into Ohio each year in the form of local and state taxes.

“For far too long, tourism has not received the proper recognition for the important contributions it makes to Ohio’s economy,” Rep. Grossman said. “I am honored to be one of the partners bringing attention to this important industry in Ohio by promoting tourism. The benefits to economic development throughout Ohio are priceless.”

The Ohio Department of Development’s Office of Tourism continues to successfully promote Ohio’s local tourism and generate additional revenue for the state. Its “Too Much Fun for Just One Day” advertising campaign resulted in a return of $14 in state and local tax revenue for every $1 invested in tourism marketing.

Research conducted by Longwoods International on behalf of the Ohio Office of Tourism also revealed that the office’s 2011 advertising efforts generated approximately $374 million in new visitor spending from an estimated 2.1 million trips.

“The State Office of Tourism is critical in assisting small destination marketing organizations such as Destination Hilliard to promote their respective communities through co-op marketing and partnership opportunities.” said Christy Clark, executive director of Hilliard Convention and Visitors Bureau. “We work very closely with the State Office of Tourism to ensure that all our restaurants, hotels and attractions are marketed through their publications, website and other avenues.”

“The State Office of Tourism does a good job showcasing Ohio as a destination,” said Jim Hale, executive director of the Grove City Area Visitors and Convention Bureau. “That allows other agencies, like ours, to expand on the state’s message.”

“I like to think that Ohio tourism puts people on the road; it’s our job to pull them off the highway,” he said. “Tourism dollars are important to our business community and we want to make sure we get our share.”

Rep. Grossman believes that the tourism-focused provisions of House Bill 489, as well as the other efforts of the Office of Tourism, will provide vital economic activity to assist Ohio’s recovery and long-term competitiveness.

House Bill 489 has been assigned to the State Government and Elections Committee and will receive sponsor testimony in the coming weeks.


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