COLUMBUS: A newspaper review found that six of nine board members of Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s privatized economic development office, JobsOhio, have ties to companies that received tax credits or other state or JobsOhio assistance since Kasich took office in 2011.
The Dayton Daily News in a Wednesday report identified JobsOhio directors who were either employed by, on the board of or stockholders in the benefiting companies.
Those included Ohio corporate heavy hitters:
• Bob Evans
• Procter & Gamble
• Marathon Oil
The development office is responsible for marketing Ohio as a place to do business. It helps arrange loans, grants and tax breaks for businesses that would create jobs in the state. According to the JobsOhio 2012 annual report, the work of the office and its partners led to the creation or retention of nearly 76,000 jobs.
JobsOhio spokeswoman Laura Jones said the analysis encompassed incentive packages that were granted before JobsOhio existed or had a board. She said the office requires directors to abide by a strong conflict of interest policy.
Among the directors cited in the newspaper report are former Ohio State University President Gordon Gee and Steven Davis, chief executive officer of Bob Evans Farms Inc. Both sit on the boards of the restaurant chain and JobsOhio.
Kasich announced a host of loans and grants for Bob Evans adding up to about $11 million shortly before JobsOhio started operating in 2011. The assistance package was for the company to move its corporate headquarters from south Columbus to New Albany, a suburb about 25 miles away.
As a member of the restaurants’ board of directors, Gee has been paid $156,700 in cash and stock worth $533,074 during the past three years, filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission show. According to SEC records, Davis has been paid $19 million, plus bonuses and benefits since becoming the head of the company in 2006.
Ohio ethics laws and JobsOhio policy mandate that directors of the development office disclose potential conflicts of interest. Then, the directors that do not have an interest are to determine whether a conflict exists. Jones said these conflicts have not been raised.
The Republican governor’s spokesman Rob Nichols said the administration wanted to ensure that the development office was led by successful business leaders and investors.