In August 2009, Kasich criticized Governor Strickland for “letting” NCR leave Ohio.  Kasich claimed that if he was Governor, “he would have gone to the CEO’s house and ‘that guy couldn’t get out of his driveway because I’d be sitting on the hood of his car.’”

While we’re not sure if Kasich actually sat on anyone’s car, he did open up the state’s wallet for any and every company that even hinted at leaving Ohio in the past two years; doling out massive handouts with gusto.

He even had the legislature expand the job retention tax credit TWICE in 2011 so he could more easily hand out money to companies that were threatening to leave.

The three biggest –  Diebold, Bob Evans and American Greetings – received a total of $200 Million in incentives.  And we’ve heard he offered another $400 Million to Sears in order to lure them to Ohio after they threatened to leave Illinois.

Kasich’s strategy didn’t work out too well.

Both Diebold and American Greetings have put their expansion plans on hold.  And all three companies sent Ohio jobs to other states and countries since signing deals with the Kasich administration.   The only disaster that was diverted, with no help from Ohio’s Governor, was Sears turning down Ohio’s offer: the following month they posted nearly $500 Million in losses.

It’s clear Kasich is a horrible negotiator, giving away money to anyone with a good story.   His biggest deals were complete flops.  And yet, Kasich continues to claim his investment strategy is amazingly successful while refusing to tell us how he is calculating success.   We imagine Kasich’s secret Return On Investment formula contains at least some part magic, love and possibly eye of newt.

One good indication that the strategy absolutely is NOT working:  last week Kasich completely changed his tune about helping companies who threaten to leave.

“If you want to leave Ohio and you say we’re leaving if you don’t give us help,” said Kasich, “that program’s off the board. It’s not on our website. We might help somebody if they’re leaving and it’s a special case. … Believe me, there are CEOs that call me. I say, look, if you want to leave, I hope you have a nice trip. You know what’s funny? They don’t leave. Then they want me to get in a bidding war with somebody in another state.””

So in a few short years, Kasich has gone from sitting on the hoods of CEOs’ cars with wads of cash in his pockets to “don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out of Ohio”?

I am glad Kasich is finally admitting we were right about not trusting companies who threaten to leave Ohio in order to get a bunch of free cash from a naive new Governor.

But knowing Kasich, I’m still skeptical much will change.

Kasich wants to be part of the action.  He’s the deal-maker-in-chief.   To Kasich, the Governor’s job is just like his job at Lehman Brothers, before the high-profile, disastrous bankruptcy that help destroy the American economy.

Sadly, Kasich is now able to claim success, despite the obvious signs to the contrary, thanks to JobsOhio and it’s lack of transparency and accountability.  He can hide his failures behind the secret ROI formula that continues to tell us Kasich’s deals, like those with Diebold and American Greetings, were amazing investments, despite the exodus of Ohio jobs and the delayed and cancelled expansions.

 

 

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