Is JobsOhio gathering jobs or empty promises?

Somebody in Columbus has some ‘splainin to do when it comes to Ohio jobs, JobsOhio and the Kasich Administration’s real development record.

First, there’s this thorny issue of talking down the Ohio economy in order to benefit Gov. John Kasich’s candidate, Mitt Romney. Kasich and Co. know like most of the rest of us just how important Ohio’s auto industry is to our state economy. Yet he continues to tell anyone who will listen that the industry is down 500 jobs when asked about President Barack Obama’s auto rescue. We have shown that over 17,000 jobs have been created in Ohio’s auto industry since mid-2009 – when the rescue package was in full effect. The president’s policy was needed and it’s been effective.

Next there’s the issue of JobsOhio. The concept – privatizing much of the Ohio Dept. of Development’s activities – was rolled out in Kasich’s first months as governor to much fanfare. The Silicon Valley wunderkind who was brought in to make it all happen is already gone and the quasi-private corporation – JobsOhio – created by Kasich has been locked in a legal limbo since nearly day one of its creation. Yet, Kasich, ever the salesman, tells Ohioans that JobsOhio is turning the state into the land of milk and honey.

As we demonstrated this time last year, much of the JobsOhio record – as described by the governor – is dubious. What Columbus is currently calling jobs created or retained are often simply commitments from companies who may or may not ever follow through on what they tell the state. The latest case in point is Diebold, Inc.

From the Akron Beacon Journal this morning:

Diebold Inc. has scrapped its plans to build its new world headquarters in Green, saying it was no longer economically feasible, the company said Thursday morning.

The company, a maker of ATMs and security systems, said it had chosen Green as the location to build a $100 million global headquarters, despite heavy wooing from North Carolina and Virginia. The state of Ohio had given a $56 million incentive package for the project.

For that $56 million package, Diebold promised to retain at least 1,500 in Ohio for eighteen years. Promises, promises. Diebold, by the way, while it was holding Ohio hostage regarding the potential to move it’s HQ, never missed a dividend payment to shareholders throughout the financial crisis and currently yields its investors nearly 4% annually. Those are signs of financial health – corporate welfare anyone?

When your tax dollars are put on the line for profitable companies that don’t really need ‘a hand up,’ wouldn’t you like to know Ohio is getting a real return on its investment? Can we trust what Kasich is telling us about Ohio job creation and retention when we find out more and more of these development agreements are never signed, never carried out? While a company like Diebold takes a year to decide whether or not it will honor its agreement with Ohio, is our ability to work on a real development activity hindered because $56 million are spoken for?

Stay tuned.