Feb 5

Governor Mike DeWine and Lieutenant Governor Jon Husted announced its administration’s Fiscal Year 2022 - 2023 budget priorities last week. The process, which will ultimately be finalized by June 30, begins in a promising place for the northeast Ohio business community. Governor DeWine and the Ohio Bureau of Management (OBM) have published fact sheets and the Budget Blue Book that outline some of the key recommendations; for more information click here

As part of the “Investing In Ohio Initiative,” the governor’s budget would launch an effort to invest more than $1 billion “toward accelerating economic growth and ensuring economic vitality,” and it would do so without dipping into the “Ohio Rainy Day Fund.”

Part of the proposal would offer $200 million to provide up to $2.5 million grants to pay for infrastructure projects in at least 80 communities. This new line item in fiscal year 2022 provides funding for community projects such as water and sewer infrastructure, roads, downtown revitalization programs and demolition.

Another $460 million of the administration’s package would be used to support Ohio's small businesses that have been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • $200 million in grants for bars and restaurants

  • $150 million in grants for Small Business Relief Grant applicants, who previously applied and are qualified

  • $50 million in grants for lodging industry businesses

  • $40 million in grants for indoor entertainment venues

  • And $20 million in grants for new businesses, many of whom were unqualified to receive previous funding

“From the small business community’s perspective, there is a lot to like in the governor’s state budget policy priorities,” said Kevin Johnson, CEO of NexGen Interactive and COSE Board Chair. “Critical small business grant funding opportunities and timely support align with many of the advocacy priorities we have been pushing for over the course of the last several months.  We will continue to work with the Governor and the Ohio General Assembly to ensure an environment is created that promotes economic recovery for all.”   

The initiative also includes $290 million in support for broadband statewide including a specific program that could address affordability issues faced in Cleveland. The program would be broken into two $125 million installments in fiscal years 2022 and 2023. The remaining $40 million would be allocated toward two $20 million residential broadband expansion grants in fiscal years 2022 and 2023.  For the sake of comparison, the state invested $905,000 in previous broadband-related allocations over the last three years.

“It’s very encouraging to see the governor supplement one-time federal dollars to address some of the largest challenges our region faces with a proposed balanced budget and no readily apparent tax increases,” said Executive Vice President of Advocacy & Strategy Marty McGann. “Large corporations, middle-market companies and small businesses agree that a strategic approach must be taken to address hard issues like broadband access and affordability and bolster job training.  Where we choose to inclusively focus our resources today, we can accelerate greater Cleveland’s rebound tomorrow.”

The governor’s budget also includes investments to upskill Ohio’s workforce:

  • 5,000 technology-focused credentials through the TechCred Program (including the Individual Microcredential Assistance Program) in fiscal year 2021 ($5 million) and an additional 45,000 credentialed individuals in the next biennium ($25 million in both fiscal years 2022 and 2023)

  • $15 million to support targeted workforce investments in economically distressed rural and urban communities; the program partners with businesses, communities, organizations, and educational institutions throughout Ohio to establish and expand programs that help Ohioans reskill and pursue new, in-demand employment opportunities

  • $16 million with the goal of helping high school students earn 70,000 workforce credentials each year; an additional $25 million investment is recommended to aid schools in offering new and high-demand credentials to students

  • Expand Ohio to Work to help Ohioans facing job loss connect with a career coach, supportive services, and rapid re-training to become employed in an in-demand job

  • Fund the Industry Sector Partnership Grant to support partnerships among business, schools, training providers, and community leaders, strengthening the local workforce

  • Support and expand programs like the Export Internship, Diversity & Inclusion Internship, and Choose Ohio First. The Export Internship and the Diversity and Inclusion Internship programs would provide opportunities to 690 individuals across the biennium. Choose Ohio First would provide 2,000 new scholarships in addition to the 3,375 total scholarships in the 2019-2020 Academic Year

  • Guarantee that every student in Ohio has access to computer science education

Additional priorities in the executive budget include but are not limited to $100 million to expand the Cleveland Innovation District and assist in the construction of the Cleveland Clinic’s new Global Center for Pathogen Research and Human Health and $240 million to fully fund the H2Ohio program. 

Ohio’s small businesses, workforce and local communities are among the many important constituencies represented and supported in Governor DeWine’s newly announced biennial budget guidance. As the state legislature debates issues found within the plan, GCP will be certain to highlight key issues and provide advocacy support for our members going forward.