Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Chamber backs $500M bond issue

By James McNair
The Cincinnati Enquirer

The bandwagon for Ohio Gov. Bob Taft's proposed $500 million bond issue for economic development is loaded with Cincinnatians.

The Greater Cincinnati Chamber of Commerce and its technology arm, CincyTechUSA, said Monday that a new alliance has formed to throw further support to the Nov. 4 ballot measure, the final piece of Taft's $1.6 billion Third Frontier program. Made up of technology organizations, business incubators, public officials, university officers and local companies, the group calls itself Cincinnatians for State Issue 1.

Headed by state Sen. Mark Mallory, D-Cincinnati, and state Rep. Jim Raussen, R-Springdale, the task force will distribute information, organize a speakers bureau, assist absentee voters and host an Oct. 29 forum that Bruce Johnson, director of the Ohio Department of Development, will attend.

Beyond that, members of the group repeated the drumbeat of Taft's $3 million promotion campaign for Issue 1. The $500 million in bond proceeds, they said, will go toward investments in technology development and entrepreneurship with the ultimate goal of building industries and creating jobs.

"Issue 1 is one of the best programs I can think of to re-energize Ohio's economy," Mallory said. "It will keep key people in Ohio and will also attract the best and the brightest from around the country."

Issue 1 also calls for the repeal of a 152-year-old constitutional ban on state ownership of stock in private companies. Members of the group expressed no qualms about that, though it could put the state in the awkward position of regulating and collecting taxes from companies whose stock it owns.

E-mail jmcnair@enquirer.com

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