Business investment in projects that would bring new jobs to the state
and retain others has slowed in recent months, says the top executive of the
state's private economic-development agency.
"Business confidence remains soft," John Minor, JobsOhio's president and CIO, said at the agency's quarterly meeting yesterday.
The agency said 65 companies committed to 66 projects that will bring 4,043 jobs to Ohio and retain 13,332 others during the first three months of 2013. The 17,375 jobs will have a total annual payroll of about $1 billion, and the companies will make a $1.1 billion investment as part of their commitment.
While the numbers are up from the fourth quarter, the overall projects trend is down compared with the first three quarters of 2012, according to JobsOhio's first-quarter report.
"Companies are pulling back on some of their growth," Minor said, citing weak business investment nationally and worries about European and Asian economies.
Not only is the number of projects down, but the number of jobs per project is lower, too, he said.
"I don't want to paint a too-negative picture," he said.
In fact, the number of projects JobsOhio is working on is up 20 percent compared with the fourth quarter, he said.
"We're building up this pipeline," he said.
The agency is working on 329 leads that would generate 40,205 jobs with an investment of $2.2 billion, the report showed.
Some of the projects that paid off last quarter included Verizon's decision to add 500 jobs to its central Ohio operations and an expansion at Kroger's Cincinnati headquarters that will bring 200 jobs.
Jobs in information technology, advanced manufacturing and energy were the biggest winners during the quarter.
Also, the state's unemployment rate of 7.1 percent in March remains below the U.S. average of 7.5 percent and is below that of other states in the region.
Minor said Ohio has added 115,000 jobs since January 2011. The total number of private-sector jobs in that period is up by 140,000, reflecting a loss of 25,000 government jobs, he said.
Gov. John Kasich said JobsOhio's efforts are paying off, and the state is getting more attention from CEOs across the country.
He cited the results of a new Chief Executive magazine survey that put Ohio No. 22 in terms of business climate and show Ohio as the most-improved among the 50 states. That's up 13 spots from last year, and the state was No. 44 two years ago.
"To go from 44th in (being) job-friendly to 22 in two years is pretty stunning," Kasich said. " They absolutely see you people are on top of it."
The survey measured CEO sentiment on regulations, tax policies, work-force quality and other factors.
The state also improved in nearly every category in another survey released this week.
The second Thumbtack.com survey on small-business friendliness gave Ohio a C+ grade compared with a D+ in 2012. The state earned a B for its tax code and a C- on environmental regulations.
Information from the Dayton Daily News was included in this story.
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