Monday morning message from Lt. Governor - Lee Fisher
Monday, October 13, 2008
Did You Know?
Strengthen our Strengths – Link and Leverage our Inventive Past with our Innovative Future
Throughout our state’s history, entrepreneurship and small business development have been dynamic and strong parts of the growth of Ohio’s economy. Today, small business is absolutely critical to Ohio’s economy, which continues to account for the majority of our state’s job growth.
This week, I want to continue discussing our Goal to Strengthen our Strengths turning to one of this goal’s 3 strategies:
Grow and Support Minority- and Women-owned Enterprises and Small Businesses. Our Minority Business Enterprise Division led by Phil Shotwell and our Entrepreneurship and Small Business Division led by Iris Cooper will have lead responsibilities for implementation of this key strategy.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2006 Ohio Small Business Profile:
· Ohio firms owned by women increased 12 percent between 1997 and 2002, representing 28.1 percent of our state’s total businesses in 2002, the most recent reporting period.
· Asian-owned firms totaled 13,740 and generated $5.1 billion in receipts;
· Black-owned firms numbered 35,658 and generated $3.6 billion in receipts;
· Hispanic-owned businesses totaled 7,109 and created $1.3 billion in receipts.
Every large business was once a small business. William Proctor and James Gamble founded a small company built on soap and candles. Today, Ohio’s Proctor & Gamble is one of the largest companies in the world and offers more than 300 products. Jerome Monroe Smucker pressed locally grown apples into cider and apple butter. Today, Ohio’s J.M.Smucker Company exports more than 650 products to 40 countries.
Our Ohio Small Business Development Network, directed by Michelle Abraham, includes 36 centers throughout Ohio and is a partnership between our Department, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and selected chambers of commerce, colleges and universities, and economic development agencies. The Network is the premier provider of business support services to entrepreneurs and small businesses throughout Ohio. In 2007, our Network helped small businesses increase sales by more than $165 million, secure more than $9 million in export contracts, and over $126 million in government contracts. In addition, advisors worked with 8,500 small business clients to provide over 350 training sessions, obtain more than $124 million in capital, and to create and retain over 48,000 jobs.
With the new initiatives set out in our plan, we are working harder than ever to strength and increase financial and technical assistance at every stage of the business development continuum to support the growth and expansion of Ohio’s minority- and women-owned enterprises and small businesses.
- Our new Check Ohio First initiative will be a business-to-business service designed to promote and encourage companies operating in Ohio and those attracted to our state to maximize the use of Ohio businesses when making purchases. This initiative is about taking the “buy-local” effort statewide, with a special focus on matching the supply needs of Ohio’s larger companies with the products and services of Ohio’s small and medium-sized businesses.
- Ohio’s new Urban Entrepreneur Partnership initiative will be a public- private partnership to provide a comprehensive business assistance model designed to enhance the growth, scale, and infrastructure of minority-owned and operated businesses.
- Our Ohio Lender Participation Program will link Ohio’s small business communities to Ohio’s financial services industry. Finance is all about risk, and a lender’s risk is mitigated with information about the borrower’s product, character, and fiscal track record.
- The Minority Business Initiative will renew and invigorate our commitment to minority-owned and women-owned business in Ohio by working to increase participation in the state’s EDGE (Encouraging Diversity, Growth, and Equity) program to prepare more businesses to have greater access to procurement opportunities awarded by the state. We also are revitalizing our programs for minority business – the Minority Business Loan Program and the Capital Access Program – by significantly increasing outreach to our state’s business and lending communities, streamlining the program’s operations, and increasing the flexibility of the program to support minority business. Our goal is to invigorate programs that have experienced unacceptably low levels of activity for many years.
A central objective is to make state government more responsive, more customer-friendly, and more inclusive. With the help of the exciting new initiatives contained within our plan, we are doing even more to create increased opportunities for small- and minority-owned businesses to access the capital, entrepreneurial skills, and resources they need to succeed. Already we can point to a number of successes, including:
- This week we are launching two Minority Business Development Organizations, in Akron (October 14th) and Cincinnati (October 17th). These organizations will facilitate training, strategic management, networking, and mentoring opportunities with major corporations working to ensure minority businesses in Ohio have access to the assistance they need to be productive and profitable. The launch of our two new Minority Business Development Organizations this week is one of the first initiatives to be implemented as a result of our Strategic Plan.
- On October 2, our Global Markets Division, our Minority Business Enterprise Division, and our Entrepreneurship and Small Business Division partnered in hosting Ohio’s First Annual 2008 Minority Business International Trade Conference. I was pleased to participate in this highly-successful event, with more than 150 attendees, which was designed to help Ohio companies determine if they are able and interested in conducting business globally.
The breadth and depth of workshops at our conference included topics such as: Exporting: the Rules & Regulations and Are You Export Ready? The conference also offered real-life testimonials from Ohio CEOs who are currently exporting to countries outside the U.S. including Brian Hall with Innogistics; Truman Irving with American Diversified Services; Ravi Kunduru with Ventech Solutions; and Andre Thornton with ASW Global.
Directors from Ohio’s international trade and investment offices in Canada, Mexico, and Brazil were present along with industry professionals who spoke about China and the Export-Import Bank. The conference highlight was the keynote address delivered by Earl Graves, Jr., Publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine.
I want to extend our thanks and a special recognition to Phil Shotwell, Evelyn Cleveland, and our entire Minority Business Enterprise Division; Deborah Scherer, Ele Garcia, and our entire Global Markets Division; and Iris Cooper, Wendy Boortz, Sheilah Bradshaw, Karen Shauri, and our entire Entrepreneurship and Small Business Division for their hard work in making the trade conference an enormous success.
Norwalk Furniture - A New Future
For more than a century Norwalk Furniture has been a cornerstone of Huron County’s manufacturing sector and a valued component of Ohio’s economy. Threatened by serious financial challenges, the company halted operations earlier this year in Norwalk and faced the prospect of closing its doors permanently. You may recall that that Our Department quickly stepped in with an offer of a significant loan that served as the catalyst for the entry of some private investors. Unfortunately, the proposed agreement between the private investors and Norwalk fell through.
But we and the community refused to give up. We have been working quietly and diligently to keep Norwalk, both the company and the city, strong in Ohio.
Through the swift action of some generous local Norwalk area entrepreneurs and the continued persistence of state, regional, and local partners, I am very pleased to report that the Norwalk brand recently resumed operations, although with a smaller workforce. On Monday, September 22nd, the Ohio Tax Credit Authority approved a state incentives package from our Department that will keep 260 people employed at Norwalk Furniture.
Last Monday I participated in a dedication ceremony with Norwalk Mayor Sue Lesch at the new Norwalk Transition Center. Mayor Lesch has been a tremendous leader in our effort to keep Norwalk Furniture alive and well. The Center was established to help the dislocated workers of Norwalk and Huron County find the resources they need to get new jobs. It will provide resume services, training and education options, and information on employment opportunities.
The establishment of this Center was a truly collaborative effort between our Department and our regional partners at the Huron County Job & Family Services, the Norwalk-Huron County Chamber of Commerce, the Norwalk Economic Development Corporation, and the City of Norwalk. I want to thank Sue Lesch, Mayor of Norwalk; Bethany Dentler of the Norwalk Development Corporation; Melissa James of the Chamber of Commerce; Teresea Alt, Chris Robertson, Carmen Ross, Sue terVeen, and other staff from the Huron County JFS, and Erich Hetzel of the Office of Workforce Development in the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS).
I want to extend a special thanks and recognition to our great team of Tracy Allen, Mark Barbash, Patty Huddle, Martin Irvine, and Herm Stine for their exceptionally hard and effective work on this important project to rescue one of Ohio’s most important and historic small businesses.
Governor Strickland Announces Sale of $240 Million in Bonds for Infrastructure Investment
Last Wednesday, the state sold $240 million in Ohio bonds, half of which will function as the first installment of our $1.57 billion jobs stimulus plan enacted in June. All of the proceeds from the bond sale will be used to invest in Ohio’s infrastructure through the completion of road, bridge, and water and sewer projects in communities throughout our state. The Public Works Commission will distribute the funds through its existing public works process, which allows the state to partner with local communities in responding to the effects of the current economic downturn.
Our bipartisan jobs stimulus plan is making major investments in workforce, infrastructure, and new and emerging industries to spur job creation in Ohio. It is working in concert with our new strategic plan, our new energy policy, and other key initiatives to lay the foundation for our state’s future economic prosperity. In close collaboration with our partners, we are investing in Ohio’s communities, giving them the tools they need to compete for economic development and to achieve increased prosperity.
Thanks. Have a great week.