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A Discussion With Governor Ted Strickland

Ted Strickland has enjoyed a multifaceted professional career - from ordained minister to psychologist to professor to congressional representative. Now, Strickland serves as Ohio's newest Governor - and he has plans to make dramatic changes in the state economy. Strickland's congressional track record hints at success. He's brought millions in investments home to the state for roads, technology, economic development, and health initiatives.

Apr/May 07
Strickland's Turnaround Ohio plan focuses on what he sees as an unbreakable link between economic development and educational achievement. Although the plan will guide his administration, his passion will fuel it. That passion is to ensure Ohio keeps and grows the jobs it has by investing in its strengths, while also bringing the jobs of the future to the state by ensuring that Ohio has the best-educated work force possible. Area Development asked Governor Strickland to share his top priorities for his term of office.

On education. Education is the top priority. It is exciting for me as Governor to have the major business leaders in Ohio on board with the efforts that we are putting forth to significantly increase funding for early childcare and to put significant resources into our elementary and secondary schools. We also have a higher education initiative that, for the first time in a long time, will put additional state resources into higher education. Instead of having 9 percent tuition increases next year as we have had on average since 1996, we hope to have zero tuition increase next year and no more than 3 percent the following year. We are also putting significant emphasis on developing a system of adult work force development that is aligned with the needs of the business community. We'll provide training for the jobs that are being created.

On alternative energy. Focusing on domestic and renewable energy production is going to be a significant part of Ohio's effort to rebound economically. Ohio has had a strong manufacturing economy, and we are huge users of electricity and other energy forms. So I have decided to set aside approximately one third of the federal bonding authority, which equates to somewhere between $250 million and $300 million a year, to provide affordable financing for alternative and renewable energy efforts. Over the course of my four years as Governor, that would be an investment of about $1 billion.

In addition, I have appointed an energy advisor whose responsibility will be to coordinate the efforts. Ohio grows a lot of corn, so ethanol is certainly viable. We grow a lot of soybeans, so soy diesel is viable. We have a lot of coal, and I have met with three companies that are interested in constructing coal-to-liquid fuel here in Ohio. In northern Ohio, along the Lake Erie region, conditions are ideal for the development of wind power. And there are some exciting fuel-cell research projects going on in some of our universities.

On business development. I have hired an individual to pursue what is called Advantage Ohio. It will be our attempt to scrutinize all of the rules and regulations that have developed over the decades that may or may not have continued usefulness, or may be redundant or contradictory. We are going to make every effort to protect health and safety and the environment as we should, but we are also going to make sure that we are not doing anything that is going to unnecessarily impede job growth and business development. We want to do everything we can to operate state government efficiently and, at the same time, make Ohio as friendly to job growth and business development as possible.

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