RUNNING ‘JOBS OHIO’ LIKE A BUSINESS
To run Jobs Ohio like a business, Mr. Leftwich said, would require several conditions. One is that it must be part of a network of regional partners, especially NorTech and Team NEO. This is meant to ensure that all entities share their understandings of market, competition, and risk, and to allow partners to take advantage of the same regional and state strengths.
Another focus is a tool kit designed to make the right investments to grow the state economy. Perhaps the best-known of these tools, the Ohio Third Frontier, has already been a “tremendous asset” to businesses, universities, and local governments, he said, and provides a sound infrastructure to build on. The revenues from the liquor agreement should strengthen the Third Frontier, building on investments already made in technology commercialization infrastructure, networks, and the workforce. A key, he said, is to “be sure we’re meeting the workforce demands of businesses in the sectors where we want to grow.” One area his office studies is the current patterns of investment, and clues to the best ways to encourage venture capital investment.
A primary need, Mr. Leftwich said, is to ensure that collectively “all these things work together.” Jobs Ohio would focus on targeted growth, including the growth high-tech jobs and emerging market opportunities. It would target not just the number of jobs but also the payrolls, per capita income, technology transfer, patents developed, and patents actually reaching the marketplace. “We work very hard with regional partners to make sure we leverage the resources both here and in other regions.”
Finally, Mr. Leftwich said, a powerful tool was leveraging opportunities brought by Federal partners. These include the NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland; Cincinnati’s applied EPA research center; and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. Collectively these organizations represent more than $3 billion in research annually. “While they are producing intellectual capital for their own mission needs,” he said, “we need to apply and develop that capital for commercial applications as well. In this way we can grow our own industry base from the same intellectual capital being invested by Federal agencies.”
Dr. Wessner asked how much he planned to emphasize indigenous innovation—promoting innovation from existing clusters—and how much he would use the classic model of attracting new businesses and jobs. Mr. Leftwich said the state could “grow tremendously without going out to attract other businesses. Between our Federal agencies and university system we probably have $5 to $5.5 billion worth of research being conducted in the state. We first look hard at that, then how to fill in the gaps. Then we try to work with local businesses to grow them, rather than spending money to bring other companies in.”