Ohio Puts Job Development in Hands of Publicly Funded Nonprofit

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February 17, 2011; Source: Columbus Dispatch | Who is better at creating jobs – the public or private sector? In Ohio, Gov. John Kasich is betting on the private sector, especially with its ability to maneuver and make decisions without the kind of scrutiny that public agencies are under. His proposal to create JobsOhio, a new nonprofit corporation, won legislative approval earlier this week.

According to the Columbus Dispatch, "The bill allows Kasich's team, headed by his development director, California venture capitalist Mark Kvamme, to replace the Department of Development with a nonprofit corporation headed by a board of business leaders appointed by the governor." The nonprofit will be funded with public dollars and also raise money from private sources.

Despite the fact that JobsOhio is publicly funded, it is exempted from the state's open-meeting and public record laws, which is a bone of contention for some who opposed the legislation. Instead, the Dispatch says the nonprofit will be governed by new regulations that limit most of the release of information to the public through an annual report. "I was frustrated that they really didn't go far enough for the transparency and accountability we need," said Nancy Garland, a Democratic member from the Ohio House of Representatives.

Proponents of the privatized approach to job creation argued that too much public disclosure would discourage businesses from working with the new entity. Because of the new law's minimal disclosure requirements, we'll probably never know if operating in a more public spotlight is such a disincentive to job creation.—Bruce Trachtenberg