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Wednesday, August 27, 2014
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Published: Friday, 1/25/2013

Report: Ohio big on aid for businesses; companies given millions in government incentives

BY KRIS TURNER
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

A report released Thursday by Good Jobs First says Ohio provided some of the largest taxpayer-funded incentives in the country to retain businesses and create jobs.

The report is critical of state loans, grants, and tax credits and how states compete with one another — sometimes forcing states to pay to keep jobs from going elsewhere. It states that American Greetings Corp. received $93 million in government incentives to remain in Ohio. It also says Findlay’s Marathon Petroleum Corp. was awarded $72 million to remain in the state.

“They’ve turned to what we call interstate job fraud. They lure jobs from other states and label them new,” said Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First, a Washington-based national policy resource center.

The organization promotes “corporate and government accountability in economic development and smart growth for working families,” according to its Web site.

The report lists New Jersey, Illinois, and Kansas as some of the other largest incentive-granting states

The findings, however, do not detail the specifics of state incentive packages awarded to some companies. Businesses actually might have received less than the figures listed in the report.

The report fails to differentiate between what a company was promised in state incentives and what it actually received. Often, companies must fulfill specific job-creation or other requirements to receive grants, loans, and tax incentives they were promised.

American Greetings, for instance, has been allotted $32.8 million from the Ohio Development Services Agency since 2009 but only has received $259,848, according to state records. It is located near Cleveland.

An American Greetings project awarded funding through JobsOhio — the state’s new vehicle for economic development under Gov. John Kasich — has yet to receive any state money, said Laura Jones, a spokesman for JobsOhio.

“With American Greetings, no money has been paid out on that particular project,” she said. “They are going through a process of going from public to private, so that part of the project is kind of on hold, and they are going to move forward with that in roughly a year’s time.”

Mr. LeRoy said that competition among states to attract businesses and create jobs is a sham — the jobs aren’t new, and taxpayers are often on the hook when companies move or don’t fulfill their promises.

“Indeed, they should compete based on the quality of their workers, infrastructure, and other business basics,” he said.

Contact Kris Turner at: kturner@theblade.com or 419-724-6103.



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