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GCP Member Companies Support Non-Discrimination Bill

This week GCP along with several member companies and other chambers of commerce testified in support of HB 160 – the Ohio Fairness Act. If passed, the legislation would add gender identity and sexual orientation to the list of protected classes in Ohio’s Civil Rights law. Support for HB 160 follows GCP’s recent endorsement of Ohio Business Competes, a coalition of more than 300 companies that supports statewide non-discrimination policies for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer community. 

GCP’s Vice President of Government Advocacy, Alesha Washington stated in testimony that, “For our members this is a key talent and economic issue – Ohio cannot truly be competitive in attracting the best and brightest if basic civil rights are not available for all current and future employees.”

Terry Szmagala, Senior Vice President of Public and Community Affairs and Corporate Communications for Eaton stated that the company, “…strongly supports legislation that shares our vision of inclusion, because it only makes our vision easier to achieve and contributes to our employees’ success in all aspects of their lives, not just while on the clock.” Likewise, Michelle Tomallo, President and Co-founder of FIT Technologies, another GCP member company, highlighted how the best talent looks for states that have inclusive policies and Ohio must bolster its ability to compete for high-quality workers by passing non-discrimination legislation. 

HB 160 is currently being considered in the House Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. GCP will continue to track progress on the bill. 

GCP Supports the Restoration of Irishtown Bend in the State Capital Bill

A key project in GCP’s recommended state capital bill list is the restoration of Irishtown Bend, an 18-acre
hillside on the west bank of the Cuyahoga River. Irishtown Bend borders one of Northeast Ohio’s most critical commercial shipping channels that supports $3.5 billion in economic activity and over 20,000 jobs.

GCP’s Vice President of Government Advocacy, Alesha Washington, recently sat down with the Port of Cleveland and Land Studio to talk more about their state capital bill requests for Irishtown Bend. 

Watch the full interview

GCP Members Named to NSBA Leadership Positions

The NSBA (National Small Business Association) is a non-partisan organization our membership is a partner member of. In late January, NSBA’s Board of Trustees met in Washington, D.C. where the following GCP and COSE members were named to NSBA leadership positions:

• Sharon Toerek – First Vice Chair (Toerek Law / Cleveland, OH)
• Mike Stanek – Vice Chair, Membership (Hunt Imaging, Berea, OH)
• Kevin Johnson – Chair, Tax Committee (Glenwood Management / Cleveland, OH)
• Michael Canty – Chair, Regulatory Affairs Committee (Alloy Bellows & Precision Welding / Cleveland, OH)

In addition, attendees outlined the organization’s goals for 2018 and discussed what’s ahead in small business policy. The meeting’s activities began on January 29 with meetings of various NSBA committees to discuss NSBA’s upcoming events, including the NSBA Washington Presentation to be held on June 11-12.  That evening, NSBA held an informal reception for the leadership to network and further discuss top priorities. The next day, various speakers addressed the group and the NSBA Board of Trustees held their full meeting, led by 2018 Chair Cynthia Kay, Owner and President of Cynthia Kay and Co., a media production company in Michigan.

Opportunity Zone Program

The 2017 tax bill signed into law by President Trump included a provision that creates the Opportunity Zone program. This program, which is similar to the federal New Market Tax Credit, was originally pushed as separate legislation by congressional members in the House and Senate, including former Congressman Pat Tiberi. The goal of the Opportunity Zone program is to allow investors to defer capital gains from the sale or exchange of property by investing the proceeds in an Opportunity Fund. The fund would invest these assets in businesses within an Opportunity Zone. An Opportunity Zone is a qualifying census tract that has, among other criteria, a poverty rate of at least twenty percent.

The following brief provides additional detail on the Opportunity Zone program.

Under the new tax law, Governors have until March 2018 to nominate up to 25% of the qualified census tracts in their states as Opportunity Zones to the US Treasury. Treasury then has at least 30 days to approve the zones. Given GCP’s expertise and leadership in the New Market Tax Credit program, the organization is in active discussions with the State of Ohio and local partners to determine census tracts in Greater Cleveland that should be nominated.