One of Governor Kasich’s top priorities is to restructure the Ohio Department of Development shifting some of its core functions to the private sector. The General Assembly passed the JohsOhio Bill which launched an evaluation of the current Department.
The bill allowed for the creation of a non-profit corporation which would assume some of the duties and responsibilities of the existing Department. The bill also required the Director of the Ohio Department of Development to evaluate all powers, functions, and duties of the existing Department and submit a report to the General Assembly that includes recommendations in the following areas:
- Improve the functions and efficiency of the Department
- Transfer specified powers, functions, and duties to other existing state agencies or to JobsOhio (private sector entity);
- Eliminate specified powers, functions, or duties of the Department.
On August 18th, the Administration released its report with the results of its review and proposal for restructuring the Ohio Department of Development to the Ohio General Assembly. In the report, the Administration makes the recommendation to transfer core duties to the non-profit corporation. The Department will also undergo a restructuring relative to those duties and responsibilities that remain with the Department.
The following functions will be moved to the non-profit corporation:
· Office of Business Development– responsible for jobs retention, expansion and location. This includes incentive packages to attract or retain companies.
· Office of Grants and Tax Incentives– responsible for grants and tax incentives associated with business attraction and development.
· Office of Loans and Services– loan origination and servicing
· Ohio Tourism– marketing of the tourism in the State
Ohio Development Services Agency
The old Ohio Department of Development will be renamed the Ohio Development Services Agency. It will have three key divisions that will retain a large portion of the remaining functions of the current Department. The new organization of the Agency will consist of three divisions:
· Business Services
· Community Services
Impact on Environmental Grant Programs (Clean Ohio)
The Clean Ohio and Jobs Ready Site programs are the two largest grant programs available for redevelopment of brownfields. These programs will remain government functions and be housed under the Community Services Division of the newly formed Ohio Development Services Agency.
The report includes additional recommendations from stakeholders and staff about changes to the urban development functions including the Clean Ohio program. One possibility apparently not seriously discussed was moving these functions over to Ohio EPA’s brownfield program. Other improvements suggested including reducing public notice periods and expediting grant administration.
It appears that the Clean Ohio program will largely be untouched by the major transformation at the Ohio Department of Development. The only possibility could be staff reductions. The report contains the following chart showing significant staff reductions. However, the report notes that most of those reductions will be through attrition (i.e. as people leave they won’t be replaced).