The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

Reality Check

June 25, 2008

Why are we hurting so?

Despite abundant resources, county’s per capital personal income proves lowest in the region


“’Be careful about moving to Ohio,’ I hear it time after time,” he says. “There is a perception out there that Ohio is difficult to work with.”

James Timonere, executive director of the Ashtabula Area Chamber of Commerce, says entrepreneurs who consider Ohio face challenges on both the state and local levels. He says local employers wishing to expand have encountered delays of two to three years as a result of red tape and roadblocks thrown up by state agencies. Even minor local regulations that control issues like the size and placement of signs can be roadblocks to development and expansion.

Roy Bean, who provides consulting at the Small Business Development centers in both Ashtabula and Lake counties, says the state does have particularly burdensome taxes, especially when it comes to Workers’ Compensation, a tax that kicks in as soon as a business owner hires his first employee.

Carin Rockind, vice president of marketing and communications with Team NEO, the 16-county marketing group for Northeast Ohio, says Ohio’s business-unfriendly atmosphere is a misperception that is stronger within the region than outside.

“Honestly, we don’t hear that a lot (from prospects looking to locate business in Ohio),” she says. “Not as much as we think it ourselves. Those outside the region are more positive about it than those inside.”

In addition, Ohio’s ongoing tax reform, which will be completed in 2010, will give the state the best tax environment for business in the Midwest, Rockind says. The state’s new administration is much more business friendly, she says.

“The lieutenant governor is doing everything possible and working on changing whatever negatives there are,” says Arnie Clebone, economic development director for Ohio Department of Development Region XII, which includes Ashtabula County. “We’re trying to improve the perception constantly as to how we relate to existing businesses and get new business to come to the area.”

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Reality Check
  • images_sizedimage_070165730 Why are we hurting so? It’s time for a reality check.: Main story, Day one

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • images_sizedimage_069193501 Beyond wineries and covered bridges … An introduction to reality check

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • What it is, how it’s calculated Determining per capita income is a complex exercise that — at best — is a mathematical expression of a moving target.

    In its simplest terms, per capita income is, according to the Ohio Department of Development, “the income of a given area divided by the resident population of that area.” Sounds simple enough, but arriving at the figure is not.

    June 25, 2008

  • images_sizedimage_069195701 Bad vibes: Lack of opportunities, progress make for sour attitudes Eavesdrop on conversations at the lunch counter, in the aisles of Wal-Mart on a Friday evening or around the sports bar on a Sunday afternoon, and you’re likely to hear some pretty disparaging remarks about the old hometown.

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • Finding work after prison nearly impossible A portion of Ashtabula County’s unemployed can’t find a job because of their prior address – a prison cell.

    June 25, 2008

  • County part of Team NEO marketing efforts Ashtabula County is part of a 16-county alliance aimed at marketing the Northeast Ohio region to employers and business investors, many of have never heard of Ashtabula, let alone Mentor, Akron or Youngstown.

    June 25, 2008

  • Some people just don’t want a job Ashtabula County Commissioner Deborah Newcomb talks to a lot of employers, and they all express the same concern: finding people reliable people with basic skills is a problem.

    June 25, 2008

  • images_sizedimage_070212402 POOR BUT WORKING A winter wind blew across the parking lot of the Neighbor to Neighbor Food Pantry next to St. Joseph’s Church in Ashtabula; the six adults lined up at the door turned their faces from the wind, toward the metaphoric concrete wall of the building.

    June 25, 2008 2 Photos

  • images_sizedimage_071213603 County's largest hospital feels the Medicaid pain Perhaps no one in Ashtabula County feels the pinch of subsidizing unemployed or underemployed individuals more than Philip E. Pawlowski.

    June 25, 2008 1 Photo

  • Crime & Drugs Inc. always hiring Some “unemployed” residents find crime to be their best source of steady income. Judge Richard Stevens of Western County Court says he noticed a 50-percent increase in the number of criminal cases handled by his court between 2005 and last year.

    June 25, 2008

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