Rep. Driehaus Calls for End to Misguided Ad Campaign: State should focus on proven job creation methods, not soliciting anecdotes

State Representative Denise Driehaus (D-Cincinnati) today sent a letter to JobsOhio Director John Minor asking for an end to the “ThriveinOhio” ad campaign and a full account of the money used. Rep. Driehaus is Ranking Member of the House Economic Development Committee and a member of the Development Financing Advisory Council and the House 21st Century Manufacturing Task Force.

The text of the letter from Rep. Driehaus to Director John Minor is below.

November 30, 2012

John Minor

President and CEO of JobsOhio

41 South High Street, Suite 1500

Columbus, Ohio 43215

Dear Director Minor,

I write you today to express my concern over JobsOhio’s recent advertising spending. Last Sunday as I read the Cincinnati Enquirer, I was shocked to see the full-page ad, “Thrive in Ohio.”  As someone who has created jobs in this state, job creation and economic development have been my top priorities in the legislature. I have heard from small business owners across the state about what it takes to create jobs, and this ad campaign misses the mark. There is no strategy in marketing lobbied stories about living and working in Ohio to Ohioans. Furthermore, the sheer expense of the campaign is inappropriate given a budget climate which saw good schools and robust communities- two assets that we know foster a business friendly environment- financially decimated by the state.

The advertising that I have seen so far is more of a solicitation for success stories than an effort to create new stories of success. Instead of just haphazardly shopping for personal accounts across Ohio, we should employ a more strategic way to market and brand Ohio as a viable state for business and opportunity. The fact that the bulk of advertising efforts are being done in-state to fellow Ohioans makes me think this is not a job-creating campaign at all. Unfortunately, this marketing strategy takes the form of an entirely different sort of campaign.

How does telling stories about living and working in Ohio attract new business investments in our state? It doesn’t. There’s no way to even measure the success or failure of such an elementary approach. What we know from business owners who do invest in Ohio is that there are a few things that help them create jobs: well maintained and diverse infrastructure, investment in education so that we have a well-educated workforce, and communities that are attractive. Never have I heard any evidence from any successful businessperson that would suggest that anecdotal stories from Ohioans have ever been a determining factor when they consider where to create jobs.

I am deeply disappointed that over 1.4 million taxpayer dollars have been spent on this advertising campaign. In the last budget, the Governor cut $117 million to our schools in Hamilton County and severely impaired local governments from doing their jobs by slashing funding from the Local Government Fund, eliminating the Estate Tax, and the accelerating the Tangible Personal Property phase out. How can you possibly justify spending this kind of money on what seemingly amounts to a political advertising campaign, while ignoring the fact that this money would be better spent on what we know creates jobs? I shudder to think what the department intends to spend in total within the next two years on such a misguided strategy.

Clearly, JobsOhio must critically examine this misguided ad campaign. JobsOhio should turn its attention to investments that have a proven track record of creating new jobs in Ohio. The campaign should be ended immediately, and a full account of taxpayer dollars used for the methods employed in this ad is needed.

Please feel free to contact me any time to discuss this matter.  I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerely,

Denise Driehaus

State Representative, 31st Ohio House District

Ranking Member, House Economic Development Committee

Development Financing Advisory Council

House 21st Century Manufacturing Task Force

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