By MORGAN MANNS
The Fostoria Area Chamber of Commerce passed the gavel to a new board chairman Thursday during the chamber’s Annual Awards Luncheon meeting.
Ryan Smith replaced Pam Shumaker as the 2014 board chairman at the event, hosted at Good Shepherd Home.
More than 60 members of the chamber were recognized during the luncheon and received awards for their one-year, five-year, twenty-year, thirty-year, and more than thirty-year memberships. Those who were honored for their memberships of more than thirty years included Bodie Electric, 31 years; Wagner Mazda, 31 years; Time Warner Cable, 44 years; Good Shepherd Home, 45 years; Harrold-Floriana Funeral Home, 50 years; Seneca Lanes, 53 years; Whitta Construction, 56 years; KeyBank, 60 years; Reineke Ford Family Dealerships, 61 years; the Review Times, 62 years; and the Mennel-Milling Company, 98 years.
Lt. Governor Mary Taylor was the guest speaker at the awards. She was sworn in as Ohio’s 65th Lt. Governor on Jan. 10, 2011, the same day Gov. John R. Kasich was named her to lead Ohio’s Common Sense Initiative (CSI) to reform Ohio’s regulatory policies.
Taylor said CSI is “very simply our effort to get rid of red tape in bureaucracy that’s preventing our small businesses from creating jobs.”
Taylor spoke to a room full of more than 90 community members about the steps the government is taking within the state of Ohio to make it a better place to live with more job opportunities.
Under the leadership of Kasich and Taylor, Ohio was able to balance its budget and close an $8 billion shortfall, according to Taylor. Ohio had lost nearly 400,000 jobs in the four years prior to their elections, she said.
According to Taylor, the state cut taxes by $3 billion in the past few years and generated roughly 90,000 new businesses in 2013 alone, making Ohio a desirable place to work and live.
“This is the first time in a long time that we’re hearing from businesses all over the country. “¦ They’re looking at Ohio for the first time in years,” Taylor said. “They’re taking us seriously. Ohio is back on the map. Businesses are looking at the state of Ohio to expand, grow and start their businesses.”
Small businesses have experienced a 50 percent tax cut, which Taylor said she hopes they take and reinvest back into the business, and individuals have experienced a 10 percent tax cut.
Because of the decrease in taxes, Taylor advised that more retirees are looking to retire here as opposed to states such as Florida, which doesn’t have income taxes.
“They’re coming back to Ohio and bringing their resources back to this state,” she said. “They’re in a position where they can help tutor young entrepreneurs who are looking to start their own business.
Job creation in Ohio is the most important issue. It’s the number one moral issue that we face as a state. When families are stronger, communities are stronger, and that makes our state strong. So that’s why we continue to focus on making sure that are state is financially stable, that our communities are financially stable and that ultimately is what’s going to grow our state. It happens one job at a time; every job counts.”
To fill the vacant job positions that are open or that will open in the future, Taylor said that the government has been reaching out to businesses in Ohio and asking them what kinds of jobs they may have available and what kinds of skills or education they are looking for.
The government then is working with universities, colleges, and career centers to help provide occupational-specific programs to students that will help them become more job-ready after graduation.
“We want to make sure that every one of our children have the opportunity to achieve their American dream,” Taylor said. “I’ve seen a positive impact as we’ve traveled the state of Ohio and talked about educating more of our kids on what they want to do. I’m a mom, everyone has their dreams and desires for their children, but we want to them to be successful regardless of what they choose to do.”
Taylor also touched on regulation reformation, the department of insurance and how the government is trying to be bipartisan is their attempts to help the state grow.
“We can’t take our foot off the gas. Ohio is starting to move in the right direction again and we can’t slow down,” Taylor said. “We’ve got to keep pushing, looking for reform, making our government more efficient in doing everything we can to make sure that Ohio is a place where every one of our citizens can achieve their own American dream, be successful here and raise their families here.”
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