John Kasich and Mary Taylor, the Republican candidates for governor and lieutenant governor, made their first joint campaign swing together through northwest Ohio yesterday, ending with a fund-raiser in Toledo that netted $300,000.
In Wauseon, a group of small manufacturers said they are trying get away from the concentration on the automotive industry but need help from the government in the form of networking, testing, and training.
Mr. Kasich, a former Columbus-area congressman, and Ms. Taylor, the state auditor who is from Summit County, are running against Democratic incumbent Gov. Ted Strickland and running mate Yvette McGee Brown, a former juvenile court judge from Columbus.
They conducted a "roundtable" discussion with 55 representatives and employees of manufacturing companies inside the factory of high-tech tooling company Wauseon Machine and Manufacturing Inc.
One speaker, Dave Von Deylen, president of Alex Products Inc. in Ridgeville Corners, Ohio, said it would help if area universities would offer product-testing services, which he said costs up to $1,000 an hour in a commercial lab.
"What we need is universities that have the capability to do this," Mr. Von Deylen said. "We have products, we feel we could hire hundreds of employees. We need the testing done."
Lisa Arend, director of economic development for Fulton County, said government should "work at the speed of business" and supported the plea for technical support by the colleges.
"The testing is what is costly for them. If we need to get the testing done through the colleges, it's only going to assist in training for future employees for those companies," Ms. Arend said.
Mr. Kasich pitched a couple of ideas - a voucher with which businesses could tailor training programs with local colleges and a regional business consortium. He said he would tackle what he said were unacceptably high taxation and worker-compensation costs for Ohio.
Mr. Kasich and Ms. Taylor started their trip with a speech to the Ottawa County Republican Women's Club in Port Clinton.
They ended at the Toledo Club, where more than 200 people paid $1,000 and up to hear from the two candidates.
Mr. Kasich emphasized the state's troubled business climate and cited a January, 2009, survey by Chief Executive Magazine that ranked Ohio 45th overall for business.
He spoke at the closed event about less government, less taxes, workers' compensation reform, and better accountability for education, according to Patrick Hylant, a sponsor of the event.
"The economy's in the dumper. Ohio's in the bottom of every category. It's time to get things turned around. It's going to take some work by a lot of dedicated people," Mr. Hylant said.
Mr. Kasich said the fund-raiser was "a great opportunity for them to get to know me better and that's exactly what happened."
A spokesman for the Strickland campaign said Mr. Kasich's support as a congressman for international free trade agreements in the 1990s contributed to the loss of tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs from Ohio.
"Congressman Kasich has a long record of standing with the big banks and multinational corporations against Ohio's workers and manufacturing industry," said spokesman Lis Smith.
Mr. Kasich said the criticism of his votes for free trade agreements are "excuses."
Jon Stainbrook, Lucas County Republican Party chairman, said Mr. Kasich is reaching out to all the counties to establish a base of support.
"He addressed the business issues and he also raised money, which is exactly what we need to do to get that message out to be victorious in November," Mr. Stainbrook said.
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