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COLUMBUS -- Ohio Monday launched its private, nonprofit economic development experiment but did so with a sole representative from the northwest region of the state.
Gov. John Kasich Monday appointed eight members of what eventually will be a nine-member JobsOhio board.
Among the appointees was Gary R. Heminger, president and chief executive officer of Marathon Petroleum Corp., the new Findlay-based spinoff of Marathon Oil.
The rest of the board is made up of three members each from the Cleveland and Columbus areas and one from Cincinnati. The panel features no voice from Dayton nor the southeast Appalachian region, although Mr. Kasich said geographic balance was considered.
"But again we wanted to get the best people that we could possibly get," he said. "We will move over time. Some of these are one-year terms. It'll all even itself out and balance itself out … "
JobsOhio was created legislatively to give the state's economic development efforts a freer rein to court private capital to mix with taxpayer dollars to invest and partner in development deals. It will work with six regional economic development groups, including Toledo's Regional Growth Partnership.
Of the eight members, two are black men and one is a woman. The remaining five are white men.
"It's pretty clear, after an initial rough start here, diversity is a big deal for me, period, across the board," Mr. Kasich said. The Republican governor faced criticism when he first put together his cabinet for its lack of racial and gender balance.
State Rep. Matt Szollosi (D., Oregon) said of the panel, "The three C's seem to be well represented. There's nobody from Toledo, nobody from organized labor. It will still operate in almost complete secrecy. We all hope jobs are created, but there is no excuse for the JobsOhio exemption from Ohio's public records law."
Also among the appointees is Ohio State University President E. Gordon Gee and Mr. Kasich's former jobs czar and development director, Mark Kvamme, who was immediately elected president and interim chief investment officer for JobsOhio.
Mr. Kasich's choice of Mr. Heminger for a nearly four-year term on the panel follows his visit to Findlay last week to mark Marathon Petroleum's spinoff from its Houston parent. The new corporation instantly became northwest Ohio's largest firm and the fifth largest oil refiner in the nation with $62.5 billion in sales last year. The company expects to add 100 jobs this year.
"Gary's going to be very helpful to us in terms of being prepared for the development of Utica and Marcellus shale [for oil and natural gas production]," Mr. Kasich said.
He said several people his administration approached about serving on the board declined because of possible conflicts of interest. Mr. Heminger had no such qualms.
"We certainly did all of our homework and checked everything out to ensure that there were no conflicts," Mr. Heminger said.
Although Marathon Petroleum received incentives from the existing development department, Mr. Heminger said he doesn't expect the company to be a likely candidate for JobsOhio venture capital.
Mr. Kasich has yet to name the final board member.
"I don't know who they're looking at for the ninth member, but you can trust that I'll certainly look after northwest Ohio," Mr. Heminger said.
Mr. Kvamme's appointment to the panel he helped create came as no surprise. A long-time friend of Mr. Kasich's, the Silicon Valley venture capitalist was lured to Ohio to serve as development director at a $1 salary while the nonprofit corporation was created.
When constitutional questions arose over a California resident serving as director of an Ohio state department, Mr. Kasich transferred Mr. Kvamme to his office to serve as jobs czar. Although still a partner in California-based Sequoia Capital, Mr. Kvamme is now a legal Ohio resident.
A search for a permanent chief investment officer is under way.
The board Monday tentatively set the salary at $300,000 a year, plus potential bonuses.
Mr. Kvamme, however, waived the salary in favor of his current $1-a-year paycheck while a national search is conducted. He is a candidate for the job.
JobsOhio held its first meeting, making plans to take over some functions of the development department and to negotiate the purchase of the state's wholesale liquor business for about $1.2 billion.
Liquor sales still will be run by the Department of Commerce, but its profits will be redirected to JobsOhio to provide funds for business capital investment and job training.
Besides Mr. Heminger, Mr. Kvamme, and Mr. Gee, the board members are:
Bob McDonald, Cincinnati, chairman of the board, president, and CEO of Procter & Gamble.
James C. Boland, Cuyahoga County, retired vice chairman of Ernst & Young and former president, CEO, and vice chairman of Cavaliers Operating Co.
Steven A. Davis, board chairman and CEO of Columbus-based Bob Evans Farms Inc.
Dr. Martin Harris, Geauga County, chief information officer and chairman of information technology at the Cleveland Clinic.
Pamela Springer, president and CEO of Columbus-based Manta Media Inc.
Contact Jim Provance at: email@example.com or 614-221-0496.