Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Third Frontier crucial
to Ohio's high-tech future

By Bruce Johnson
Guest columnist

With the number of plant closings, unemployment lines and the nation's sluggish economy, Ohio has no choice but in invest in its economic future. There's little doubt that Ohio's economy is changing and that the global marketplace is becoming more competitive every day. For Ohio to build upon its economic leadership, Ohioans must take aggressive measures to secure our present and future economy.

In addition to tax, regulatory and civil justice reform, Ohio must reassert its leadership in world-class innovation.

It is no exaggeration that Ohio stands at a crossroads. Ohio's rich heritage is founded on many traditional industries, in particular, our manufacturing excellence. As we move forward into the 21st century, it is critical that we maintain and build upon our industry strengths.

Issue 1 is a critical element of Gov. Bob Taft's Third Frontier Project - a $1.6 billion economic development investment. By supporting Issue 1, thousands of new high-paying job opportunities will be created across the state. Jobs will flourish in advanced manufacturing, biomedical products, fuel cells, information technology and other high-growth fields.

In 2002, the Ohio Department of Development commissioned a study by Battelle Memorial Institute. This study ultimately concluded that if Ohio is to remain globally competitive, we must use our manufacturing strengths as a catalyst to become the cutting-edge location for new products and processes through the application of research.

I believe that this is the right road for Ohio to travel into the new knowledge-based economy. As a matter of fact, we are already seeing innovative, groundbreaking research from every corner of the state as a result of Third Frontier awards.

For example, the Third Frontier is ushering a new era in pharmaceutical development that builds on information derived from the Human Genome Project. The Genome Research Institute of the University of Cincinnati received $9 million in Biomedical Research Funds to establish a center that will locate specific genes responsible for important human diseases. This can help formulate drugs that will affect the targeted gene and treat the disease process. This approach to drug development is revolutionizing the pharmaceutical industry and will make more effective and cheaper medications available to our citizens. The center has important partnerships with P&G Global Pharmaceutical and the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

With the Third Frontier Project, Ohio's economy will grow and will become a world-class leader in new product creation and commercialization. By supporting Issue 1, we as voters will allow Ohio to issue bonds to help bring these new products to market, recruit world-class researchers, entrepreneurs, and industrial fellows and support existing and start-up companies to create more jobs.

Issue 1 will require a tax increase either now or in the future. Because Issue 1 will create more jobs without raising taxes, Republicans, Democrats and Independents support it.

Issue 1 is about keeping our kids and college graduates close to home, because good job opportunities are right here in Ohio. It's about finding better treatments for cancer and other debilitating diseases. Issue 1 will create opportunities for all Ohioans, and it will accomplish that without imposing new taxes on Ohio's residents. It is up to us, as Ohio citizens, to seize this opportunity to ensure a bright future for our children and our economy.

Bruce Johnson is the director of the Ohio Department of Development.

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