[caption id="attachment_233" align="alignleft" width="300"] (Photo of Dean Monske - HiVelocityMedia.com)[/caption] During my first week on the job, I went up to visit the regional economic development organization for Northwest Ohio--the Regional Growth Partnership (aka RGP) based in Toledo. I met with Dean Monske, President & CEO (pictured here); Paul Zito, VP of International Development; Gary Thompson, VP and JobsOhio Director; VP Doug Born, Kyle Dodd, Colleen McCray and many others. I thought it would make sense to explain how we (the Seneca Industrial and Economic Development Corp. or SIEDC) work with RGP to encourage and advance economic growth for Seneca County and why it's so important to have a strong regional partner. RGP plays the following four key roles for us:
- JobsOhio/State Incentives - RGP is our JobsOhio Network partner and receives funds from JobsOhio to represent, negotiate, package, and help facilitate approval of all state incentives for projects throughout northwest Ohio. They have the authority from the State of Ohio (the Ohio Development Services Agency) to represent the State in interactions with companies. During 2012, RGP was directly involved with 37 projects in 2012 with capital investment exceeding $340 million. These projects resulted in the retention and creation of 6,000 jobs. One of these in Seneca County was Taiho of America, and RGP helped procure both a Job Creation Tax Credit and a Business Incentive Grant for the $13M expansion.
- Regional Marketing - it is difficult as one of 3,144 US counties to get the attention of key decision makers for economic development projects. Site selection consultants and corporate real estate executives most often go metro area by metro area, state by state as their first step in eliminating or including sites for consideration. RGP invests significant resources to market northwest Ohio--including Seneca County--to national and international prospects, working to get them interested in and to consider the region as a positive place for investment. A July 2013 visit by site selectors to northwest Ohio underscores the point. RGP is willing to consider supporting marketing activity done by SIEDC that are beneficial to the entire region.
- Retention & Expansion (R&E) - working with existing businesses to help them stay successful, grow and expand is the most important part of any community's economic development strategy, and RGP understands this. Accordingly, RGP financially supports SIEDC to call on key existing businesses in our county.
- Tech-based Economic Development - RGP runs the Enterpreneurial Signature Program (ESP) for northwest Ohio under the RocketVentures brand. The ESP program, along with the Pre-Seed Fund Capitalization program, are the two flagship initiatives of the Ohio Third Frontier, a $2B initiative begun in 2004 to support entrepreneurs, attract resources, and commercialize technology in this state. In essence, RocketVentures is our companies' consultant to access the services and resources of the many programs and funds within the Ohio Third Frontier.