According to JobsOhio’s 2012 Strategic Framework document ”Ohio is a headquarter state!”. And one of the key strategies in 2013 for the publicly-funded development group is ”to promote Ohio’s central location as an excellent fit for headquarter projects.” They actually have an entire document about it on their website.
According to JobsOhio’s latest quarterly report, two of the largest Q2 projects this year were headquarters projects, one for Safelite Group, the automotive glass repair company, and another for the Ascena Retail Group, a retailer of clothes for women and tweens.
The Q1 report also contained two headquarters projects. One for Kroger and another for Epipheo, a creative video production company in Cincinnati.
And let’s not forget American Greetings, Bob Evans and Diebold – all companies that received tens of millions of dollars in headquarters-related incentive packages from the state early in the Kasich Administration.
It’s fair to say that Kasich and his team over at JobsOhio love headquarters projects. Attracting and retaining company headquarters in Ohio is part of their long term strategy for business development in the state.
Enter Pure Romance.
Pure Romance sells lotions, bedroom toys and other “romantic enhancements” to women. They are a growing $100 million company and they planned to move their headquarters to Cincinnati, along with 60 of their employees, and they promised to add another 60 jobs in next three years.
JobsOhio’s local partner, Cincinnati USA Partnership, told Pure Romance that the state would give them tax incentives valued at $108,000. But the deal was quietly killed by Kasich, who probably didn’t like the optics of associating with a company that – gasp! – recognizes women might actually like to enjoy sex too.
“I’m very disappointed with the way the governor’s office has taken a stance on this,” CEO Chris Cicchinelli told the Cincinnati Business Courier. “It’s telling people women don’t really matter.” According to the paper, Kasich’s office has refused to respond to calls from Cicchinelli.
After days of refusing to respond to questions from the press on the cancelled deal, the administration finally sent David Goodman, director of the Ohio Development Services Agency, to throw himself under the bus.
“I didn’t think it was a wise investment of state dollars,” Goodman told The Enquirer, taking responsibility for cancelling the state’s involvement. ”It’s not part of the targeted industries that JobsOhio typically invests in.” Supposedly those industries include biotech, logistics and energy. But not headquarters.
Remember that Q2 report we mentioned earlier? Of the 16 projects listed, zero are biotech, zero are logistics and only one is energy. So of the biggest wins in Q2, JobsOhio had twice as many headquarters projects as it did biotech, logistics and energy combined.
Clearly, Goodman’s excuse is a load of crap. Clearly he’s covering for Kasich and his team. Clearly Kasich is more concerned about how the project would be viewed by his prudish base going into an election year than he is about actually getting and keeping jobs in Ohio.
The Enquirer reports that the company is now looking at other options across the river in Kentucky.
In August 2009, Kasich criticized Governor Strickland for “letting” NCR leave Ohio. Kasich claimed that if he was Governor, “he would have gone to the CEO’s house and ‘that guy couldn’t get out of his driveway because I’d be sitting on the hood of his car.’”
In August 2013, well into the third year of his administration, Governor Kasich is quietly vetoing deals that could help keep Ohio companies and Ohio jobs in our state. And instead of blocking the CEO’s car, he’s handing him a map to Kentucky and gift card for the Sizzler in Covington.