Policy report about rural and metro growth

Published 11:08 am Friday, August 6, 2010

I recently became aware of incorrect information published in an editorial by State Sen. John Carey, R-17th District, in the newspaper regarding the organization I represent, Greater Ohio Policy Center, and a report that we recently issued.

Simply put, he has been misinformed, and I would like to set the record straight.

I spent a quarter century as a full-time professional farmer, and I am a proud conservative from a rural area who believes in the smart growth principles Greater Ohio was founded upon.

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Smart growth is about smart spending and smart governance, not just in Ohio’s urban areas but also across the state.

Sen. Carey states our report, “Restoring Prosperity: Transforming Ohio’s Communities for the Next Economy,” which provides a series of recommendations to help Ohio become more competitive in the future, is biased toward big cities. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

Indeed, the heading of one section of the report is titled, “Restoring Prosperity to All of Ohio: Why this Matters to our Rural and Appalachian Regions.

Greater Ohio is a nonpartisan research organization that promotes — through research, public education and grassroots advocacy — public policy to grow Ohio’s economy and improve the state’s quality of life through intelligent land use. It received input from hundreds of rural Ohioans while compiling the report with the Brookings Institution.

We developed our report recommendations from nonpartisan research and extensive outreach throughout Ohio, including many communities in Appalachia.

Recommendations from “Restoring Prosperity” apply equally to metropolitan areas and rural areas, and both have much to gain from each other’s successes.

Greater Ohio’s focus on governance reform and regionalism is not one that trips off the lips of country folk easily; we distrust our city cousins.

However, research conducted by Greater Ohio has proven conclusively that because we shop in the big cities, revenue sharing would benefit rural folks the most.

Since we have fewer people, governance reform that allows us to keep our cost of government low per resident will have the largest bang for reform in rural areas.

You can find more examples about the importance of Appalachia and rural Ohio’s stake in the “Restoring Prosperity” strategy, and the research and outreach that went into its development, by reading our report, which can be found at http://greaterohio.org/

Just as I relied on test plots from OSU to determine which varieties of corn to plant to get the maximum yield when I farmed, Greater Ohio has been running test plots on public policy by meeting with local community groups, civic organizations and elected leaders to hear their best practices and share state level policy reforms.

The research speaks for itself. Restoring prosperity to Ohio means both strong metros and rural areas. We can’t have one without the other.

Gene Krebs is the Senior Director of Government Affairs Greater Ohio Policy Center.