Business Leadership to Build a Better Ohio

Economic Development

Technology/Third Frontier

The BRT has played a pivotal role in elevating technology-based economic growth to center stage on the public agenda. The origins of our work in science and technology go back 15 years when in 1996 we launched a bold statewide initiative to preserve Ohio's leadership in aerospace - a business sector that began in our state.


From the first successful flight in 1903 by Ohioans Orville and Wilbur Wright to today's state-of-the-art research and development facilities, Ohio has been integrally involved in the creation and growth of the U.S. aerospace industry.

Yet, as the nation approached the end of the 20th century, doubts were being voiced about American's ongoing commitment to aeronautical excellence and space exploration, and concerns were being raised about the future of Ohio's aerospace industry, which at the time represented 300,000 jobs and a total economic impact of more than $13 billion a year. The Roundtable took action to protect the NASA Lewis Research Center and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base as vital national assets, and to ensure that future aerospace resource distributions upheld the nation's strategic investment in Ohio's aerospace know-how.

And that is precisely what we accomplished. In partnership with academic, government and other business leaders, the Roundtable carried Ohio's message to the White House and to the nation's top aerospace officials. They urged Ohio's congressional delegation – with unparalleled success - to join in a unified effort to maintain federal funding support for NASA Lewis and Wright-Patterson.

Ohio First in Flight

View the BRT-produced Ohio: First in Flight video, which premiered at the May 22, 1996 Ohio Aerospace Forum in Washington, D.C.

A host of programs, projects and initiatives focused on accelerating Ohio's high-tech, high-wage, high-growth future had already been launched when In September 2001, Governor Bob Taft asked the BRT and the Ohio Technology Partnership to work with him and legislative leadership to advance a focused technology-based economic growth agenda.

That agenda - based on innovation, economic growth, committed programs, commercialization and jobs - became the Ohio Third Frontier project (OTF), which Governor Taft unveiled in February 2002. Initially a ten-year, $1.6 billion effort, OTF represented the state's largest ever commitment to expanding Ohio's high-tech research capabilities and promoting start-up companies to build high-paying jobs for generations to come.

In June 2003, the BRT prepared and published World Class Ohio: A Prospectus for Achieving Success in the Third Frontier, which was designed to provide guidance to state policy leaders on OTF's strategic direction and investment priorities. Building on important work at Battelle Memorial Institute - and representing the best thinking in the state from a broad base of business people with input from academic leaders, researchers, technologists, scientists and public officials - the prospectus identified five core areas of strength where Ohio already had demonstrated world-class leadership: (1) advanced materials, (2) biosciences, (3) information technology, (4) power and propulsion, and (5) instruments, controls, electronics and advanced manufacturing technologies.

The BRT also played major leadership roles in successful statewide ballot initiatives that secured voter approval of OTF's original bond funding mechanism ($1.1 billion) in 2005 and renewed the bond funding mechanism (an additional $700 million) in 2010.

Ohio Third Frontier has lived up to its commitment, delivering  an impressive return on investment. It is fostering innovation, attracting substantial follow-on dollars, generating economic activity and creating companies and jobs in high-tech industries. As of December 31, 2011, OTF had created 88,874 direct and indirect jobs; created, attracted or capitalized more than 800 start-up companies; and attracted $7.3 million in follow-on dollars. (See the BRT's Third Frontier Performance Appraisal Report.)

OTF also has received national acclaim from respected organizations such as the National Governors Association and the Pew Center for the States, which characterized OTF "a comprehensive, professionally run effort to build world-class research capacity, promote interaction between research and industry, and commercialize R&D."

Business Development

The BRT has supported efforts during the Taft, Strickland and Kasich administrations to gradually transform and privatize the state-level business development function in Ohio.

JobsOhio is a private, nonprofit corporation created by Governor Kasich and the Ohio General Assembly in 2011 to lead Ohio's business development efforts by focusing singularly on attracting and retaining jobs, with an emphasis on strategic industry sectors in areas of statewide and regional strength. The BRT housed and incubated JobsOhio in its formative days, and continues to support its work by providing back-office services and serving in a consultative relationship on an array of economic development issues and opportunities. It's noteworthy, also, that a majority of the JobsOhio's Board of Directors are current or retired BRT CEOs.

The BRT always has supported state efforts to attract investment and jobs to Ohio. For example, in January 2012, the Roundtable collaborated with the Columbus Partnership, the Cincinnati Business Committee and the Greater Cleveland Partnership to develop and place an advertisement in The Wall Street Journal thanking state government leaders for their work to enhance the business climate in Ohio and support job creation, job retention and economic development in the state.

Previously, from 2005 to 2011, the BRT housed, incubated and provided support to the Ohio Business Development Council (OBDC), the precursor to JobsOhio. OBDC took over state-level marketing and sales functions from the Ohio Department of Development (ODOD), promoting Ohio's desirability as a location for business investment and expansion and providing ODOD and regional economic development organizations with qualified leads and tools for their job-creation and retention efforts. The BRT also was instrumental in recruiting a loaned executive from Procter & Gamble to serve as OBDC Director.

Ohio Business Roundtable MEMBER COMPANIES

View All