Gov. John Kasich is turning to the man who put the Victoria’s Secret catalog in homes across America to help market Ohio as a great place to live and work.
Kasich told Ohio business leaders on Wednesday that multi-billionaire Les Wexner agreed to take a look at a marketing plan for the state.
“We do have an issue with image,” Kasich said. Too few people outside of the state understand that Ohio has great neighborhoods and schools and other assets, he said. “I don’t know that we’re going to have a Victoria’s Secret type marketing plan for Ohio but it isn’t a bad thought, is it? Talk about cool and exciting. We’ll see.”
Wexner is the founder and chief executive of L Brands, a retail empire that includes Bath & Body Works, Victoria’s Secret, PINK and spun off Tween Brands and Abercrombie & Fitch. Earlier this year, Forbes magazine listed Wexner’s net worth at $5.7 billion.
Kasich said he isn’t sure what Wexner will do “but I’m excited to have him involved. I mean, the guy is a brilliant marketer.”
Kasich, Senate President Keith Faber and House Speaker William Batchelder — Ohio’s big three political leaders — reviewed accomplishments for 2013 and gave a sneak peek at plans for 2014 during a 90 minute presentation to the Ohio Chamber of Commerce.
The trio announced that they’ll ask Ohio voters in May to renew the Ohio Public Works Project bond issue for the fourth time. The bond issue generates money for local infrastructure projects such as roads, bridges, water and sewer works. Currently, it raises $150 million a year but voters will be asked to increase the bond issue to generate $175 million a year for the first 10 years and then $200 million a year for the second five years.
“We are shining up Ohio. We are rebuilding Ohio,” Kasich said.
They also called on business leaders to push for a constitutional amendment to require the federal government to balance its annual budgets.
Kasich touted his administration’s work to balance the state budget, improve Ohio’s credit rating, streamline government regulations on businesses, rebate $1 billion in workers’ compensation premiums and build up the state’s rainy day fund to $1.5 billion. The governor said these steps, along with a 10 percent income tax cut, encourage businesses to stay and grow and move to Ohio.
At the same time, Kasich said his administration is working to lend a hand to the needy, including those with serious mental illness, developmental disabilities and drug addictions.
“I can’t think of a better formula than that. I can’t think of a more important mission than to raise people at all levels,” Kasich said.
While the Republican leaders put forth their best numbers, Democrats criticized them for emphasizing across the board income tax cuts that disproportionately benefit the wealthy and noted that Ohio’s economy is faltering.
“Ohio is 44th in the nation for job creation; unemployment is at 7.5 percent — significantly higher than the national average. Gov. Kasich and Ohio’s GOP elected officials need an economic reality check. Instead of prioritizing millionaires and special interests, Ohio needs to grow our economy by putting working and middle class families first. What we heard today is more of the same failed trickle-down policies, which knocked Ohio back down just when we were starting on the road to recovery,” said state Rep. Debbie Phillips, D-Athens, in a written statement.
Kasich noted that Ohio is awaiting a decision from the Federal Aviation Administration on whether the Dayton-Springfield area will be named as one of six testing areas for unmanned aerial vehicles. Dayton is a leader in sensor technology, he said.
“As a result of that it should make sense for us to win one of these but I also thought it made sense for us to win the shuttle, one of the shuttles, and we ended up with a nose cone,” Kasich said. “I can’t predict what will happen but we have certainly put our best foot forward.”