Ohio just won an “award” from Site Selection magazine, but I highly doubt it’s anything we will hear Governor Kasich’s administration crowing about.
|Illustration courtesy Site Selection magazine.|
Ohio has reclaimed the Governor’s Cup from rival Texas for new and expanded project activity. The Buckeye State’s 498 qualified projects for 2011 represents a better-than-30-percent jump from its 376 projects logged in 2010, which put Ohio behind Texas in the last contest.
Site Selection’s Governor’s Cup ranks the 50 states according to their success in attracting capital investment projects that meet one or more of these three criteria: a minimum investment of US$1 million, creation of 50 or more new jobs and new facility construction or floor space of at least 20,000 sq. ft.
Sounds like a great accomplishment, right? Well, it’s certainly good news, but as a former contributor explained two years ago, the prize isn’t exactly a reliable measure of economic health. Why? Because last year Ohio came in second, and was first for the 4 previous years. How did that work out for us?
Now, it’s very important to note that this is the fourth year in a row that Ohio has won this “prize”. It’s safe to assume that after F-O-U-R Y-E-A-R-S of being the BEST IN THE NATION that we’d be seeing this job growth, right?
But in the past year, the number of employed Ohioans has shrunk by 212,000 people. The unemployment rate has increased by 2.2 points to 10.8%. And the labor force has shrunk by 90,000 since the previous January.
The fact of the matter is this, if you can’t make the Site Selection data flow to the state’s bottom line, it’s just white noise and the “award” loses all sense of legitimacy.
Strickland has had four years of awards to build that bottom line and do you know what it’s gotten Ohio? A total unemployment rate of 17.2% for all of 2009, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Let’s look at it another way. The magazine measured each state in the union and divided them by region. Of the five states in Ohio’s region, Wisconsin measured the worst with the number of expansions equaling a measly 1/9th of Ohio’s total. And yet, at the end of 2009, Wisconsin’s employment rate was 2.3 points lower than Ohio’s at 8.5%.
So, while its certainly good news, the Site Selection data doesn’t necessarily mean that great times are ahead. It’s just not been a good indicator. But that reality never stopped the Strickland administration from shouting it from the rooftops 2 years ago.
State leaders are trumpeting that Ohio had the most new corporate facilities and expansions open last year, the fourth time in a row that the state has placed No. 1 in the annual list compiled by Site Selection magazine.
And guess who else thought the award was a big enough deal to write about and thanked Ted for coming in 2nd place last year. You know it…those crazy kids over at Plunderbund. (I’m not exagerating, check their headline.) Even pirate-obsessed Chris Redfern, the chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party tweeted a thank you to Ted last year.
If the Plunderdumbs and Redfern thanked Ted for coming in 2nd, they must really value this award. I’m sure that they will thank Governor Kasich for returning Ohio to the top spot and scoring a whopping 30% more projects for Ohio any minute now, right?!
Meanwhile, don’t expect expect John Kasich to talk about this. He knows it’s much better to focus on investing resources that bring real results and real jobs. For example, in the latest victory for JobsOhio, Abbott Labs announced today that it will invest $270 million to build a new factory in Ohio, creating 240 new jobs. Kasich remarked, “I’m really proud of my team and the team at JobsOhio for working collaboratively with Abbott and local partners to make this happen. The decision means more than 200 families will have a better future, and to me, that’s what it’s all about.”
I bet the folks in Tipp City would agree with me, and prefer to hear their governor talk about 240 new jobs in their town than hearing him brag about some award that doesn’t help them one bit.