There are many important issues that Ohioans have been facing during the past few years. As a state representative, I have worked on legislation that deals with a variety of topics. But since taking office at the beginning of last year, I have tried to keep my focus predominantly on how to improve Ohio’s economy, build up businesses, and create jobs. This, after all, affects many other areas of our lives.

To give you an idea of where we were, Ashtabula County’s unemployment rate was at 13 percent when I entered office. The state legislature has taken a number of steps to get people working, and Ohio has created 123,000 jobs since January 2011. Ashtabula County’s unemployment rate is now 8.4 percent as of August. Meanwhile, Ohio is 4th in the nation in job creation and 1st in the Midwest.

But even with Ohio’s unemployment being better than most other states, we can still do better. It’s important that we grow industries such as manufacturing and agriculture. We must also emphasize small business growth and tourism. This is what I have strived to do for the past two years.

When I voted in favor of House Bill 489, it was to create the Office of TourismOhio, which is going to be funded through a five-year pilot program that links funding for tourism to the growth in sales tax revenue of tourism-related industries. This increase will help attract more visitors and businesses to Ohio, helping to grow our economy. We will also be able to evaluate it and ensure it is performing well in the future.

The creation of TourismOhio was part of a larger bill that transitioned the Department of Development into the Ohio Development Services Agency to better reflect its mission of revitalizing job-creation efforts by providing important services to JobsOhio.

You might remember that JobsOhio is the new economic development entity aimed at addressing the needs of businesses in a timely manner. It is filled with various business leaders and has proven to be very successful in the short time period that it has been in operation. I’m proud that JobsOhio was created in the very first bill that the Ohio House had during this General Assembly. I’m also proud that my first vote on a bill was one that got Ohioans back to work during a time of economic peril.

We have had other pieces of legislation to create jobs, though. This includes a bill that created the Common Sense Initiative Office, which looks closely at rules and regulations state agencies create to ensure they are not unfairly hindering small businesses in Ohio. Being buried in paper work and trying to remain compliant can be a burden on many Ohio small businesses, which create the vast majority of jobs in this state. The CSI Office will help these businesses to better operate and grow.

Through the important work done since January of last year, it is fair to say Ohio has made significant economic progress through the acts of the state legislature. But with Ohio’s large economy and so many families still struggling to make ends meets, there is much more we can do. I remain committed to continue the work of drafting and supporting policies that get Ohioans back to work.

I realize that Ohioans are tired of being in the economic doldrums, and they are also tired of being tired. I’m doing everything I can at the state level to get us on the right path to economic prosperity, and I will continue to keep my focus on getting people back to work for the months and years ahead.


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