The Governor’s top legislative priority is the privatization of the State’s economic development functions. House Bill 1, known as "JobsOhio", has been introduced and a vote in the Senate may come yet this week.
The Ohio Department of Development (ODOD) plays a critical role in the administration of the Clean Ohio program which provides millions in grants for brownfield redevelopment. The Department’s current role includes the following:
- Review for Clean Ohio grant applications for completeness;
- With the assistance of Ohio EPA, makes eligibility determinations;
- Meets with applicants to discuss projects (known as "PRAMs");
- Selects which projects will receive Clean Ohio Assistance Fund (COAF) funding which has recently become Phase II assessment grants;
- Assists the Clean Ohio Council in evaluating projects for Clean Ohio Revitalization Fund (CORF) funding for clean up; and
- Determines which projects can be reimbursed with grant funds.
On the brownfield projects I work on, the ODOD personnel are the key point of contact when evaluating projects and through out implementation of the project. More than once, ODOD personnel have made absolutely critical decisions that impact the viability of projects or have made significant reimbursement decisions that cost developers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
With the privatization of economic development functions, ODOD’s key role will almost certainly be absorbed by another state agency. Most likely, Ohio EPA will pick up these functions, but its possible the functions could stay with the newly created non-profit corporate entity.
How far away are we from that transition? House Bill 1 is only the first step in privatization of the Ohio Department of Development and the associated transfer of existing functions to other state agencies. The bill basically establishes the non-profit corporation to be known as JobsOhio. The Bill then calls for a six month consultation process to evaluate transition of the other functions of ODOD.
Here is the relevant section of H.B. 1:
Sec. 187.05. The director of development, as soon as
practical after the effective date of this section, shall, in
consultation with the governor, evaluate all powers, functions,
and duties of the department. Within six months after that
effective date, the director shall submit a report to the general
assembly recommending statutory changes necessary to improve the
functioning and efficiency of the department and to transfer
specified powers, functions, and duties of the department to other
existing agencies of the state or to JobsOhio, or eliminate
specified powers, functions, or duties. The recommendations shall
be submitted in writing to the speaker and minority leader of the
house of representatives and the president and minority leader of
After submitting the report, the director, in consultation
with the governor, shall continue to evaluate the department and
make additional recommendations on such matters to the general
We are probably at least a year away from seeing any of ODOD’s responsibilities transition to other agencies or to the JobsOhio entity. For now it will be the status quo. But in the near future a crucial decision will be made as to who will administer ODOD’s critical Clean Ohio responsibilities.