A new report from the Ohio Chamber of Commerce‘s research foundation recommends the creation of four organizations that it calls “statewide hubs,” to accelerate the innovation economy in Ohio to prevent the state’s economy from falling further behind the rest of the country.
“Ohio Bold: A Blueprint for Accelerating the Innovation Economy,” recommends the creation of “Innovation Hubs” that target disruptive technologies in four industry clusters — data analytics; the health care supply chain; the next generation of manufacturing; and infrastructure, which includes everything from drones used for agricultural technology to energy management platforms, to sensors for monitoring water systems and other public utilities.
“Innovation initiatives are not just an important endeavor, but an absolute necessity for our state’s economic competitiveness,” said Brian Hicks, president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce Research Foundation, in a news release. “Through these statewide innovation hubs and the other strategic initiatives outlined in “Ohio Bold,” we believe Ohio’s government and business leaders can provide increased focus to specific areas of innovation that are of growing relevance to large sectors of Ohio’s economy.”
The hubs would bring together industrial partners, research institutions and the public sector through shared-use facilities to advance new product development, process improvements and the commercialization of new technologies. It would also try to accelerate the state’s economy by attracting and generating a skilled technical workforce and foster the growth, attraction and creation of businesses.
“Ohio’s future in the innovation economy is at a pivotal point,” the report’s authors wrote. “Even with Ohio’s economic development initiatives, cutting-edge innovation, and business-friendly tax incentives and regulation reforms, the speed of technological advancements requires Ohio to embrace a new paradigm. Disruptive technology is changing the face of every industry and will be the competitive strength needed to accelerate in this new economy.”
The report noted that Ohio’s gross domestic product (GDP) per capita, an indicator of a region’s standard of living, has remained stagnant for five decades while the nation’s per capita GDP increases, indicating that Ohio is losing ground, despite a decade of economic recovery after the Great Recession.
The report also recommended the expansion of several state economic development financial incentive programs and creation of new venture capital investments funds. It would also create incentives to retain Ohio graduates with skill sets related to the four innovation hubs and a new program that would seek to attract senior and mid-level Ohio native professionals back to the state.
The report did not estimate the cost of developing these hubs. It said only that “the funding requirements for these critical statewide initiatives will be significant,” but that much of the money could come from existing sources, including federal workforce dollars and proceeds of the state liquor business, which are not controlled by JobsOhio, the nonprofit economic development organization. The hub program also would tap a research and development bond fund that has been used to fund the Ohio Third Frontier program, which funds entrepreneurial firms and talent attraction.