Third Frontier is proven investment in Ohio

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 25, 2010

On May 4, State Issue 1, a measure to renew Ohio’s Third Frontier program, will appear on the statewide ballot.

Created in 2002, the Third Frontier initiative has proven to be an exceptionally wise investment, stimulating substantial job growth and fostering new industries that will ensure our state’s leadership in the new knowledge economy.

Ohio voters definitely hit the mark. The Third Frontier program is regarded by business leaders around the country as a national model for turning research into results and enterprise into employment. And it does so with remarkable efficiency.

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Third Frontier projects have delivered nearly 10:1 returns on Ohio’s investment without raising taxes. That bears repeating: nearly $10 returned on every dollar invested without taxpayer money.

Issue 1-Third Frontier has made good on its promise to address Ohio’s most crucial need. A recent study credits the program with creating 48,000 jobs and 571 new companies, all of which build on our state’s traditional strengths by forging partnerships among businesses and universities.

Near Youngstown, for example, a 40-year-old company is finding new ways to stay viable through fuel cell development. In Cleveland, seven companies are working together to research wind energy. In Dayton, a new company is developing the next generation of aerospace materials. Those are just a few examples out of dozens that are at work from the shores of Lake Erie to the banks of the Ohio River.

The new jobs and companies are not only in high-tech industries; the ripple effect spurs job growth in other areas, from advertising and accounting to office infrastructure and support services. That means Ohio’s young people are able to stay right here to start their careers.

Another telling feature that distinguishes Issue 1-Third Frontier: It has garnered broad-ranging support that is, to my experience, simply unprecedented.

Democrats and Republicans, labor and business groups, scientists and farmers, and communities large and small — all have signaled their strong endorsement of Issue 1.

New jobs and businesses created, existing companies expanded, and no new taxes. Little wonder the program is attracting admirers around the country. And as others watch, now is our time to act.

By voting “yes” on Issue 1, we have the opportunity to not only maintain, but also accelerate the positive momentum that was created several years ago. Together, we can help to assure an economically sound and vibrant future for Ohio.

E. Gordon Gee is the president of The Ohio State University.