Ohio, India export leaders to import manufacturing jobs

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh came around the world to find new economic development for their regions, and to tout their own successes to date. They came to Hannover Messe, the annual European manufacturing trade fair in Hannover, Germany. The week-long event from April 24 through April 28 focused on innovation throughout the manufacturing process and the pot...
By Bob Vavra May 1, 2006

Ohio Gov. Bob Taft and Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh came around the world to find new economic development for their regions, and to tout their own successes to date.

They came to Hannover Messe, the annual European manufacturing trade fair in Hannover, Germany. The week-long event from April 24 through April 28 focused on innovation throughout the manufacturing process and the potential for growth by European manufacturers for the global landscape.

That message was not lost on Taft, who arrived with a large contingent of Ohio officials and trade representatives and armed with a tax incentive plan he said would build on the state’s leadership role in U.S. manufacturing.

“Our tax plan is designed to keep it that way,” Taft said in an exclusive interview with PLANT ENGINEERING magazine. “This is the biggest tax change in Ohio in 50 years.”

Among the changes in the Ohio business tax code:

  • Elimination of the machinery and equipment investment tax by 2008;

  • Elimination of the inventory tax by 2008;

  • Elimination of the corporate income and franchise tax by 2010;

  • A 21% reduction in the personal income tax;

  • Exempting sales outside of Ohio from taxation;

  • Legislation designed to reform the state’s workers compensation and lawsuit protection program for business.

    • “It’s all designed to consolidate Ohio’s position in manufacturing,” said Taft. “We have a long history of manufacturing excellence. We have a good workforce in the area with good skills.”

      The tax incentive plan was part of Ohio’s effort to find a local solution for issues of job and manufacturing loss in the state. “It all starts at the local level,” Taft said. “Most real initiatives are going to have to come from the states. That’s not to diminish the role of the U.S. Department of Commerce, which has been very supportive, but we’re here building Ohio’s image, building relationships. We want them to have confidence that if they come to Ohio and there are challenges, we will respond to them and work with them at the highest levels of government. They will have access to top officials.”

      The same is true for India, which was selected as the Partner Nation for this year’s Hannover Messe. Dr. Singh said in the event’s open ceremony April 22 that India’s growth had implications for the global manufacturing effort. “Today, we have a new vision for India as an active participant in the increasingly integrated global economy,” he said at the opening event of the trade fair, which was also attended by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. “We are committed to an open, liberal economy; one that is in tune with the new realities of the global economic order. We seek to enhance our presence in the international trading system.”

      That’s just what Taft has in mind for Ohio. He sees much work to be done in the U.S., and holds Ohio as a model of those possibilities. The state has established Project Lead The Way, which provides state funding to high schools that provide a pre-engineering class to its students. “More than 60 high schools have adopted this so far,” Taft said. “We have to reach down earlier and start even before high school to tell young people what manufacturing is today.”

      It is a message Taft has taken on several international trade missions as he works to put Ohio’s name among the elite regions in manufacturing. It has been a tough sell, but a necessary one given issues home and abroad. “It’s concerning to hear Congress talking about controls on foreign investment in the U.S.,” Taft said. “We have 960 foreign companies investing in Ohio. Manufacturing is one of our healthiest sectors. Our manufacturing exports are growing, and we’ve got a lot of jobs tied to exports. Ohio is an integral part of the world economy.

      “We’re feeling terrific competitive pressures,” Taft added. “We have to go out and tell the story.”