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Published: Wednesday, 5/5/2010

Third Frontier, casino site change approved


COLUMBUS - Statewide ballot issues went two for two yesterday as Ohio voters gave thumbs up to expanded taxpayer investment in Ohio high-tech ventures and to a geographic move for a Columbus casino.

Despite concerns that renewal and expansion of the Ohio Third Frontier bond program might fall victim to corporate welfare and tax worries that dragged the original version to defeat in 2003, Issue 1 was approved.

It was supported by a broad coalition that included government leaders, the business community, and state universities.

The $700 million bond package, a renewal and expansion of the program, will invest in high-technology, biomedical, and green-energy research. These are programs that the state hopes will ultimately translate into new products and open up opportunities for Ohio manufacturing companies to produce them.

Issue 2 alters the Ohio Constitution to reflect a change in location for a casino in Columbus that central Ohio voters generally opposed in November, while most of the state approved casino gambling for the first time.

The casino, to be developed by Penn National Gaming, will now be built on an abandoned Delphi industrial site west of the city's downtown instead of the original voter-approved site in the family-friendly Arena District of the city, close to a hockey area and new minor-league ballpark.

Although it required statewide approval, the question had no impact on the three other planned casinos in Toledo, Cleveland, and Cincinnati, whose locations, right down to specific parcels, were written into the constitution.

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