The Business Courier and the Dayton Business Journal hosted the Regional Development Forum this morning at the Savannah Center in West Chester. Nearly 300 members of the business community poured into the room for breakfast, a compelling keynote address from Mark Kvamme of JobsOhio, the not-for-profit development entity formed by Gov. John Kasich, and a high level panel discussion about economic development in Southwest Ohio.
Clark Schaefer Hackett was proud to be a Silver Sponsor of the event, in good company with fellow sponsors Fifth-Third Bank, Austin Landing, Frost Brown Todd, Thompson Hine, and the West Chester Liberty Chamber Alliance.
Speech and discussion highlights that stayed with guests:
- Mark Kvamme noted that Ohio has everything going for it, except self-promotion from its own residents. He urged us to let the country know that Ohio is a great place to do business and live. Kvamme said Ohio’s attraction lies in its natural resources (water for one), location (within day’s drive from 60% of Americans), transportation (rivers, great lakes, and high-ways), and the workforce (“Ohioans actually work,” said the former Californian).
- Kvamme predicted that Ohio will experience a renaissance in manufacturing, which he says will be based on high-tech manufacturing, requiring a highly-trained workforce. He supported this by noting that the logistical costs of moving jobs out of Ohio, and out of the country, are starting to surpass local labor costs.
- With emotion, Kvamme remembered his friend Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple who passed away the day before. He played the audio from the “Think Different” Apple ad, voiced by Jobs, that centered around People Who Changed the World. Three of the four people featured in that ad were from Ohio, he noted. And he ended by compelling the audience with “Let’s go do it again.”
- Panelist David Dougherty, executive director of the Cincinnati USA Partnership, stated that 80% of job growth is done by existing business, so he supported taking care of the businesses we have, while also investing in Early Stage companies who will be the established businesses of the future.
- Dr. Kevin Joseph, CEO of West Chester Hospital, linked good schools and healthcare to economic development, noting that families look for both when choosing a community to locate in. His hospital is poised for growth and jobs creation in the near future.
- Jeff Hoagland, CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition, said he’s witnessed that JobsOhio is approaching things in a new and efficient way. He said that Business Tax Incentives are being looked at as investments, and Ohio is considering the likelihood of a return on those investments before offering them. As a former venture capitalist, Kvamme, head of JobsOhio, is looking for Ohio’s “investable opportunities.”