Saturday, May 22, 2010

Ohio's economic development plan is a model for Wisconsin

Sparked by the success of a referendum in Ohio earlier this month to enlarge bonding for economic development by $700 million, there is a growing interest in a similar initiative in Wisconsin.

By a solid margin of 62%-38%, voters in Ohio authorized the four-year expansion. The plan builds on the creation in 2002 of a $1.4 billion bonding program to promote innovation and long-term growth.

Ohio's economy, which has lost 635,000 jobs since 2000, is just as challenged as Wisconsin's, and voters there bit the bullet and supported a large-scale initiative called the Ohio Third Frontier. The commitment of more than $2 billion for economic development in that state dwarfs all job-creation initiatives in Wisconsin.

The Third Frontier leaders rolled out some impressive statistics to make the case for the additional $700 million of investments in promising industries, technologies and entrepreneurs. They did not use the normal metrics for investing, like return on equity. Instead, they looked at creation of companies and jobs and the amount of tax revenue flowing from the new economic activity. More here.

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