Ohio's Lieutenant Governor Mary Taylor says the state's pro-business policies, its good infrastructure and manufacturing heritage make it a good place to invest. DW spoke to her at the Hanover Trade Fair.
DW: Ohio is one of the top investment destinations for European business - over 2,000 European companies, among them Siemens and Bosch are active there. What is it that attracts them to the state?
Mary Taylor: Several things. First, we're centrally located in the US, and we're connected to Europe by seaway via Lake Erie and the Ohio river as well as other waterways. We have great infrastructure for transporting both people and goods across our state and our country, and also to European markets.
Over the last six years, the Governor and I have been focused on cutting taxes and reducing regulations on business… With the help of 'Jobs Ohio' [a state agency] we're getting the message out that Ohio is a good place to live and to do business.
Are there tax breaks for businesses in Ohio?
Yes. Jobs Ohio is a non-profit entity, created in 2011, for economic development of our state. It aggressively reaches out to companies looking to expand or relocate operations. Jobs Ohio works with such companies to put together an investment package they believe will be good for the state as well as for the business.
Mary Taylor is a certified public accountant (CPA) and the Lieutenant Governor of Ohio. A member of the Republican party, she was elected alongside Governor John Kasich in 2010 and re-elected in 2014.
TTIP is very high on the agenda here at the Hanover Trade Fair this year. For a state like Ohio, which already has very good business relations with Europe, why do you need TTIP?
We really focus more on… a state perspective, and the policies the state is responsible for. TTIP is a federal government issue. …We typically don't engaged in those kinds of discussions in Washington. But I haven't heard that [TTIP] will be a significant factor in our [business investment] attraction work.
How does Ohio stack up in terms of competing against other US states to attract European businesses?
I'd say that recently, over the past six years, we've become very competitive, we do very well compared to other states, like our neighbor Michigan, because we've reduced taxes and the regulatory burden. We also have good cooperation between universities and businesses, we have 17 public universities and several private universities. We've really focused on vocational training - that's a gap we've had in the past.
Does the training students are getting in Ohio equip them for the challenges expected to emerge with widespread digitalization of industry, the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution or Industry 4.0?
Yes. Certainly you can always make more progress, and that's something we'll continue to work on. Industry keeps changing as technology develops, so you always have to evolve your education opportunities to meet market demand… We are emphasizing vocational training, and our vocational colleges work on how they can get their students placed in jobs.
There's no fear in the new generation that the jobs they're training for will disappear as Industry 4.0 technologies, robotics and so on, take hold?
I don't get the sense the younger generation is concerned that manufacturing jobs will disappear. Ohio is a state that makes things. We have 1,200 manufacturers in the state of Ohio. It's always been a part of our heritage and I think it'll continue to be.
We graduate about ten thousand engineering students a year in Ohio, and we have some research professors working on Industry 4.0 here. … We're the number one supplier state to Boeing and Airbus, and in second place in terms of the automotive supply chain. As industry moves forward, we'll be strong in taking on the challenges.
What are some of the other challenges Ohio faces?
Drug issues are a concern. Our state is facing a heroin and opium epidemic, which we've been actively fighting since we came into office with a variety of new policies. I think employers in Ohio would probably agree it's one of the challenges we face…. We're working on it.
We also need to look to further infrastructure improvements, including underground infrastructure, i.e. sewer and water systems. Ageing infrastructure is a challenge across the United States. … Developing workforce skills will remain an ongoing priority, including not just students but also retraining programs for people changing jobs, and for military veterans returning to the state. We have a very significant veteran population in Ohio. We're working on ways to better connect them to the business community. Many veterans are skilled in a way that manufacturing makes sense for them [as a new career].
Why is there such a big Oktoberfest [beer festival] in the Ohio city of Cincinnati?
A. More than 40 percent of the population of Cincinnati is of German heritage. They're very serious about their German heritage and about Oktoberfest.
The interview was conducted by Janelle Dumalaon at the Hanover Trade Fair