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Ohio Voters Will Determine Economic Project Fate

Ohio voters will decide next week on a proposition to sell $700 million in general bonds to keep the state's economic development program running through 2016.

The $1.6 billion Third Frontier project, launched in 2002, is focused on supporting tech development. If voters shoot down the ballot item the program will end in 2012.

According to a Wall Street Journal report, the program has been a success ass the state's spend of $681 million brought about $6.6 billion in economic activity and has created 55,000 jobs.

"This really has succeeded and added to the economic development opportunities in the state," said Sandra J. Degen, VP for research at the University of Cincinnati and a member of the Third Frontier's advisory board, stated in the WSJ report.

Yet those opposed to the funding effort say it will just increase the state's debt at a very bad time. A former state leader calls it "ill-advised," given the economic situation.

Ohio leaders who endorse the proposition believe it's necessary to spur business given a drop in manufacturing base and an unemployment rate of nearly 11 percent.

The Third Frontier targets five technology areas-advanced and alternative energy, biomedical, advanced materials, instrument controls and electronics, and advanced propulsion-and builds programs and promote relationships between research and leading and new companies.

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