Editorial Roundup: Ohio

Toledo Blade. September 19, 2022.

Editorial: FirstEnergy award shames development

The news isn’t all bad for FirstEnergy.

The utility giant that serves Toledo has been recognized by economic development trade publication, Site Selection magazine, as one of the nation’s “top utilities for economic development.”

It’s the fourth year in a row FirstEnergy has been honored for economic development work and the 18th time in 20 years Site Selection has judged the Akron-based utility as a job creation juggernaut for Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, New Jersey, New York, and Maryland.

Site Selection is often cited in economic development circles, so the entire industry suffers when their credibility is made questionable by continuing honors to FirstEnergy, without explanation of the utility’s status as the instigator of the worst scandal in Ohio history.

FirstEnergy agreed to pay a $230 million-dollar fine in a deferred plea agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice for admitted bribes of $60 million to secure passage of Ohio House Bill 6.

It was that infamous legislation which forced consumers to subsidize nuclear and coal power plants and locked in a rate adjustment guaranteeing excess profit for FirstEnergy.

It’s important that everyone connected with economic development, especially citizen-voters, realize forcing a billion dollar annual subsidy for a utility takes money from consumers that could otherwise be spent in local businesses.

It makes the fixed costs of large manufacturing or commercial operations higher than in competing locations and therefore is antithetical to competitiveness.

It pains us to point out facts that should be well known in the economic development field. It is just as painful to see trade journalism reduced to boosterish blather rather than deeply insightful reporting on such an important endeavor as economic development.

The facts FirstEnergy admits to in the government’s Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organization Act case are against the law.

But the impact to Ohio prosperity had those acts gone undetected and been allowed to stand, are literally against everything economic development is supposed to represent.

FirstEnergy corrupted Ohio government to reap parasitic profit.

Site Selection should be ashamed their standards of judgment for utility excellence don’t include integrity.

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Youngstown Vindicator. September 21, 2022.

Editorial: Local colleges, students to gain from Intel growth

A report by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies, or OACAA, shows Ohio’s poverty rate is 12.7% — that is 0.8% higher than the national rate.

Sadly, that trend has been consistent over the past five years.

That’s why we are so excited to see new jobs and local training opportunities that will come with development of the new Intel semiconductor plant being built in central Ohio. The massive $20 billion facility will benefit our state, and it also stands to benefit our Mahoning Valley directly.

“We need to make sure that those opportunities are spread throughout Ohio and to all income groups. If that happens, we can see real improvement for our citizens as well as our economy,” Philip Cole, executive director of OACAA, told WYSO.

He’s right. Ensuring that local institutions of higher learning take advantage of available education funds will ensure that local students get the opportunity at high-quality starts they need to be ready for jobs at Intel.

We learned in recent weeks that Youngstown State and Kent State universities are among 80 higher education institutions in Ohio that will benefit from the $17.7 million Intel intends to give out during the next three years to develop semiconductor-focused education and workforce programs.

Intel announced the investment — the initial phase of its $50 million pledge to the state’s colleges and universities — before its recent groundbreaking at the future site of the technology giant’s leading-edge computer chip facility in New Albany.

YSU will partner with 10 other colleges and universities in northeast Ohio to provide training programs in automation, robotics, microelectronics and semiconductor processing to help students gain the skills needed to support semiconductor manufacturing and equipment operations.

Kent State also is among those 10 colleges. Additionally, Kent State will lead a network of 13 other colleges and universities “to prepare the workforce to make the small electronic devices that play a large role in our everyday lives,” according to the university. That coalition also includes KSU’s seven branches, including Kent State University at Trumbull in Champion.

“Kent State is well suited to answer Intel’s charge to help the region and the nation meet key technology challenges, such as addressing the demand for semiconductors,” Todd Diacon, KSU president said. “This grant presents us with a great opportunity to empower this network of academic institutions to take the lead in the future of microelectronics in ways that tangibly advance the workforce.”

Eastern Gateway Community College, which operates in Youngstown, also is part of a collaborative effort involving 16 community colleges and technical schools in Ohio to develop semiconductor education and workforce programs for tech giant Intel. As part of the Artificial Intelligence Incubator Network, EGCC will provide workforce and career accelerator training courses as a gateway to in-demand fields.

The fact is that once Intel’s new facility is up and running in the not-too-distant future, it will have a need for some 3,000 well-trained workers.

That bodes well for our region’s educators, our region’s students and for all of Ohio.

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Sandusky Register. September 20, 2022.

Editorial: Victims have rights, from the start

Ottawa County Prosecutor James Van Eerten said he intended to build a law enforcement team specifically trained and assigned to respond family violence and sexual assault calls. He’s understood since before he became prosecutor in 2017 that victims’ rights was a priority for the court. He campaigned promising to make it a priority.

His efforts got a boost last week when Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced that Ottawa County was awarded $254,000 in state grant money to bring VanEerten’s team onboard. The Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Response Team “will be up and running by Jan. 1, or before then,” the prosecutor told the Register last week.

He was clearly pleased with the news.

One of the frustrations in the court system, according to VanEerten, is the victims’ advocacy program is triggered when someone is indicted for a crime of family violence or sexual assault, or gets arrested. By then a case could be months old, or longer, and the need for services starts on day one, when a crime is committed and then reported.

This grant will fund payroll for two years for a director and two part-time team members who will be available around the clock to respond to calls with local police officers from any law enforcement agency in the county. The team will be trained in every aspect of response protocols for serving victims, protecting their rights and protecting the integrity of any available evidence. From the start.

Victims are traumatized after a crime is committed. They often need immediate medical help and mental health services immediately can be ongoing. They have rights from the start but victims are not equipped to know how to protect themselves; being a victim is new and unknown and being traumatized in a moment can have lifelong impacts.

VanEerten was a court magistrate at the courthouse before being elected prosecutor in 2016. He was no stranger to the failed investigations and failed prosecutions of his predecessor, investigations that betrayed the public trust and victims and their families. This team, it seems to us, is a right approach to improve services. It just makes sense to protect victims. We hope police across the county and across the region support it.

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