Ohio officials may close overseas trade offices

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    8/13/2011

    COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The head of Ohio's development agency said Friday the state may end its ties with trade offices overseas as the department prepares to hand over its job creation duties to a new semiprivate nonprofit entity.

    Development Director Christiane Schmenk said given the looming transfer of some functions to JobsOhio, the department is cutting the size of its global markets division.

    Some positions are being eliminated, though department spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle said employees may be reassigned within the agency.

    The global markets division was allotted $3.5 million in the state budget for the current fiscal year and no money for the following year.

    The Columbus Dispatch first reported on the restructuring of the development agency's global market division on Thursday.

    JobsOhio was championed by Gov. John Kasich to lead the state's economic development efforts. The first-term Republican governor signed its creation into law in February after criticizing the state-run development department as too slow and bureaucratic to keep up with business. The nonprofit JobsOhio corporation will be overseen by a board of business executives and entrepreneurs.

    Whether the state cuts ties with the global offices remains undecided, though Schmenk said it was possible now that JobsOhio will be charged with handling the division's functions of bringing jobs from global companies to Ohio.

    "We are still working through the plans," Schmenk said. "We are evaluating them office by office to determine that."

    The global market division has consultants who work for the state from 11 international offices under 12-month contracts that began July 1, McCorkle said.

    The overseas consultants promote Ohio exports and try to draw foreign investments to the state.

    Ohio's consultants work out of Canada, Mexico, Belgium, Chile, Brazil, Israel, South Africa, Southeast Asia, China, Japan and India.

    Schmenk said the agency will report its plans for the global markets division to the Legislature next week, along with what other functions should be moved to JobsOhio.

    "The goal is not to hurt any current companies that use these services, but to give them even better and stronger services with JobsOhio," Schmenk said.

    Kristi Tanner of JobsOhio says the new entity is already exploring ways to share costs with the state's regional economic development groups, such as those in Cincinnati and Columbus, who already have overseas representation

    read more http://www.newsandsentinel.com/page...-overseas-trade-offices-.html?isap=1&nav=5072
     

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