It was a great honor to see House Bill 18, legislation that encourages expanding and moving businesses to consider moving into vacant buildings, signed into law by Governor Kasich last week. A lot of work went into crafting and revising the bill to make sure that the final product does all that it can to promote economic growth in the Cleveland area and across the state.
House Bill 18, which I sponsored at the beginning of last year, addresses what had become a growing problem in Ohio during the recession of the last three or four years. Because of the struggling economy and a tax structure within the state that was anything but friendly to job creators, many businesses either were forced to shut down or moved out of state. That migration of industry and jobs left behind, not only economic hardship for the individuals and families that had lost their jobs, but also a large supply empty buildings.
Now we are beginning to see that Ohio’s economy is on the mend and jobs are coming back. From 2011 to 2012, our state improved from 48th to fifth in job creation nationwide and has become the number-one job producing state in the Midwest. Now that businesses are looking to move back into the state and are hiring more workers, there is once again a use for the abandoned buildings that were left behind.
HB 18 provides grants for businesses that move into a facility that had been vacant for at least 12 months, increases its payroll by hiring new workers, or employs either 50 new employees or adds 50 percent to its workforce. It makes more sense, both economically and environmentally, to use buildings that already existed than to continually build anew. Hopefully, someday, the vacant buildings will be occupied, representing a resurgence of Ohio’s economy and business atmosphere.
Thanks to the hard work of both the House and Senate, this bill was passed by the legislature, and now it has been signed by the governor. I believe this is another innovative way that Ohio is setting a great example for job creation, because as I continue to say, “It’s All About Jobs!”