Rep. Stinziano to Introduce Legislation to Help Small Businesses Grow

COLUMBUS–State Rep. Michael Stinziano will introduce legislation to create the Ohio Economic Gardening Pilot Program.

The pilot program will provide technical assistance to eligible businesses to help them expand and hire new employees, and will focus resources on those companies that are best poised to grow and to create new, good-paying jobs in Ohio.

“It is clear that we must think of innovative and cost-effective solutions to create a positive business environment in Ohio and to pull ourselves out of economic hardship,” said Stinziano, a Columbus Democrat. “At a time when our state is focused on attracting outside investment, the Ohio Economic Gardening Pilot Program will give local companies the inexpensive tools they need to grow.”

Economic Gardening is an economic development model that embraces the fundamental idea that entrepreneurs drive economies. It seeks to create jobs by connecting entrepreneurs to resources, encouraging the development of essential infrastructure and providing entrepreneurs with needed information. The model focuses on what is known as Entrepreneurial Growth Companies (EGC). EGCs are businesses that have passed the start-up phase and have the potential for additional growth. Data compiled by the Lowe Foundation of Tampa, Florida, shows that EGCs create more jobs per company and generally create more wealth per employee, especially if the company is innovation-oriented.

The Ohio Economic Gardening Pilot Program will provide market intelligence to businesses that have between 6 and 99 employees, maintain a principal place of business in Ohio for at least two years and generate between $750,000 and $25 million in annual revenue. Qualified businesses must also have increased both their number of full-time employees in Ohio and their gross revenue during at least three of the last five years.

Economic Gardening has been implemented in other states that are also seeking to innovate business creation. In 2009, for example, Florida began an Economic Gardening Program with astounding results. In the first year alone, GrowFL (Florida’s Economic Gardening Technical Assistance Pilot Program) estimates that it helped to created more than 1,458 direct and indirect local jobs and annually contributed more than $281.2 million (direct and indirect) to the local economy.

Rep. Stinziano's bill will be assigned to a standing House committee for consideration.