Last week, the Ohio legislature gave final approval to House Bill 122, a bill sponsored by Representatives Steve Hambley (R-Brunswick) and John Rogers (D-Mentor-on-the-Lake) which establish the Regional Economic Development Alliance Study Committee to review the benefits and challenges involved in creating regional economic development alliances. Greater Ohio Policy Center (GOPC) testified earlier this year in the Ohio Senate on HB122, offering recommendations for how the bill could be improved.
GOPC has long supported policies that promote regional sustainable growth. Research by GOPC and others have shown that sprawling land use and development patterns have become economically, environmentally, and socially unsustainable for the state and its regions. HB122 has potential to be an important vehicle in fostering thoughtful consideration and review of ways that cities, counties, townships, and other public entities can best partner to economically compete from regional areas of strength and effectively address regional needs across Ohio.
To meet that goal, GOPC recommended several changes to the membership composition of the study committee, changes which included adding non-voting members of the study committee. These members would provide expertise on areas such as regional planning (GOPC added the President of the Ohio Association of Regional Councils, a representative from a Metropolitan Planning Organization); economic development (Executive Director of the Ohio Economic Development Council); philanthropy (a representative of an Ohio-based foundation); and non-profit advocacy (a representative of an Ohio-based advocacy group). All of these non-voting members will provide needed insight and guidance for the voting members of the study commission and will all be appointed by the governor.
HB122 was overwhelmingly approved by both the Ohio Senate (32-0) and the Ohio House (89-2) and now is awaiting final approval by Governor Kasich.