Diversification the Focus of Gee’s Last JobsOhio Meeting
At Tuesday’s JobsOhio Board Meeting, Governor John Kasich came to say hello and Gordon Gee came to say goodbye.
This was Gee’s last meeting with JobsOhio, the nonprofit organization with the mission of encouraging investment and development throughout the state. Gee, who is currently serving as the president of West Virginia University, had been with JobsOhio since its inception four years ago.
Gov. Kasich attended the first part of the JobsOhio board meeting at the Columbus Foundation and told Gee he wanted to “personally thank you for your friendship and your service.” Gee complimented the governor on guiding JobsOhio through heavy political resistance at in its early years.
“I am deeply appreciative of your leadership,” Gee told Kasich.
Kasich also had words of praise for the nonprofit’s recent accomplishments during his visit. In particular, Kasich celebrated what he called “greater diversity” in the jobs being created in Ohio.
“We want manufacturing, we want agriculture,” said Kasich. “But there’s a lot of other things we want as well, like financial services and logistics distribution, energy.”
Kasich said Ohio is only starting to see the “tip of the spear” when it comes to energy development in the state, as well as the potential for polymer, plastic and chemical production.
“We’re getting in a position now where Ohio’s become a lot more diversified and growing jobs and it’s pretty darn exciting,” said Kasich.
The meeting continued on after the Governor departed, and diversification of jobs and industries remained a primary focus. John Minor, the nonprofit’s President and Chief Investment Officer, highlighted job creation and capital investments by six companies in 2014; Fuyao Glass, General Electric, McClane, Procter & Gamble, Whirlpool and Zulily.
According to Minor’s report, the Dayton region is leading the state in job creation, followed by Northeast Ohio and the Columbus area. Kenny McDonald of Columbus 2020 further highlighted job growth around the state capital, and announced the coming of the Trustbelt Conference to the Columbus Hyatt Regency in May and June of 2015.
Bruce Fawcett of PolymerOhio presented to the board on Ohio’s advantages in the shale gas liquid industry. According to Fawcett, Ohio accounts for 24 percent of polyethylene demand, but ethane, which is used to make polyethylene, is shipped from Ohio to the Gulf Coast, where it then shipped back as polyethylene. This creates what Fawcett called a “structural inefficiency” which Ohio could take advantage of.
The board finished the meeting with an executive session, but before departing, Chairman Jim Boland echoed Gov. Kasich’s comments and thanked Gee for his long years of service. The board joined with Boland in giving Gee a round of applause.
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