Friday, Oct 21, 2016
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Op-Ed Columns

Issue 1 is right for Ohio



J. Kevin Fitzsimons / NOT BLADE PHOTO Enlarge

RENEWAL of the highly successful Third Frontier program is on the May 4 ballot as State Issue 1. Voting yes is one of the easiest decisions I will ever make.

Issue 1 gives Ohioans a defining opportunity: Together we can set the course of our state's future and secure a solid economic foundation.

Third Frontier's imperative for university-industry collaboration makes the program unique. That is the source of its strength. And it will be the keystone of our state's economic prosperity.

I am keenly interested in keeping our talented young people in Ohio, helping them to grow careers and working to assure that their lives are fulfilling and prosperous. On each of those counts, Third Frontier has proven uncommonly successful.

With seven years of Third Frontier data, we have all the evidence we need. The facts:

•48,000 jobs created for Ohioans.

•571 new companies.

•Nearly a 10-to-1 return on state money invested.

•Not a tax increase.

Third Frontier leverages existing research and business strengths in areas of great commercial potential. It's hard to imagine a more productive strategy.

I have spent a good bit of time traveling the state and seeing those results in action. In northwest Ohio, Third Frontier seed funding is at work in several cities and towns.

Case in point: Ohio State is working with Maumee-based The Andersons, which matched a Third Frontier investment of $5 million, to research a more-efficient pesticide delivery system that minimizes health and environmental hazards.

The beneficial byproducts? Job creation, enhanced crop efficiency, and economic growth in the turf-grass, horticultural, and agricultural industries.

Another example builds on this region's historic leadership in specialized glass applications to develop a hub for solar-energy products. At the Wright Center for Photovoltaics Innovation and Commercialization, the University of Toledo partners with Ohio State and Bowling Green State universities, Battelle, DuPont, Honda of America Manufacturing Inc., and Owens Corning.

That formidable force not only is helping to develop renewable energy solutions, but also is growing Ohio careers. The center has created more than 130 jobs and two companies, and prompted the relocation of three other companies to the state.

Thriving in the 21st Century economy demands an all-hands-on-deck approach. The rules have changed. No longer can we act in isolation - businesses pursuing their ends, colleges and universities attending to theirs.

Third Frontier gives Ohio a substantial head start on the pack in forging partnerships that catalyze results. My colleagues in other states now look to us as a national model.

Issue 1 has strong traction and impressive returns. Little wonder that its passage next month is supported by a wide range of business and labor groups, by farmers and nanotechnologists, by Democrats and Republicans.

At a time when such broad agreement seems increasingly rare, we know we are on the right track. By casting a yes vote on Issue 1, together we will create Ohio's future.

E. Gordon Gee is president of Ohio State University.

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