Getting around to business Featured

9:48am EDT July 22, 2002

The governor’s out stumping for advice from the business community.

He’s already getting an earful from his 22 Small Business Advisory Council members.

“We all walked in to say, ‘We’re honored to be here, but let’s be more than a standing council,’” said Linda Hondros after the council’s first meeting in October. “Let’s make sure we’re a working council.”

Hondros, president of Hondros College in Columbus, says she was encouraged by Gov. Bob Taft’s efforts to seek information from the grass roots of the small business community.

“He was very attentive,” she says. “What was really encouraging was he basically took notes on all of our concerns.”

“I really got a piece of their mind,” Taft told approximately 300 small-business representatives attending the Governor’s Small Business Summit Oct. 20. “They’re all really just telling us like it is.”

The council decided to gather four times in 2000, starting in January. The members will communicate via e-mail to set an agenda for the coming year based on results of the summit. The summit’s goal was to identify concerns in areas of tax, health care and legal reform; state and federal mandates and regulations; and work force development.

Taft pledged to discuss the business owners’ concerns with his cabinet members.

“We are committed to working with all of you to create and maintain the conditions to allow small business to flourish,” he told summit attendees.

Taft’s appointees to the Small Business Advisory Council are: R. F. Bumpus, president of R.F. Bumpus Co. in Toledo; John Burgen, president of Burgen Real Estate Ltd. in Boardman; Robert Gray, president of The Gray Printing Co. in Fostoria; Linda Hondros, president of Hondros College in Columbus; Brenda James, owner of James Insurance Agency in Stockport; Bruce Jentner, president and CEO of Jentner Financial Group in Akron; Joseph Jeffries, owner of Reisbeck Food Markets in St. Clairsville; Kevin Jones, president of Homestead Inc. in Medina; Daniel Lester, owner of a State Farm Insurance agency in Chesapeake; Joel D. Marx, president of Medical Services Cos. in Oakwood Village; James Matesich, CEO of Matesich Distribution Co. in Newark; Curtis McGuire, owner of Redleg’s Lumper Service Inc. in Columbus; Bob McKirnan, president of McKirnan Brothers Co. in Celina; Lois Mitten, CEO of Children’s Discovery Center Inc. in Toledo; Kathleen Rhoads, co-owner of Rhoads Farm Market and Garden Center in Circleville; Peggy Roudebush, vice president of Harrison Concrete Inc. in Harrison; Thomas E. Secor, president of Durable Corp. in Norwalk; Dwight Smith, president of Sophisticated Systems Inc. in Columbus; John Sullivan, president of Gold Star Chili in Cincinnati; Jane Tortola, president of Hartville Foods in Hartville; Robert Vennemeyer, CEO of Design Group Inc. in Columbus; and Charles T. Walsh, president of Walsh Enterprise Solutions in Dayton.

Another group, the Governor’s Workforce Policy Board, will provide guidance to the governor in developing a comprehensive work force strategy to ensure Ohio remains competitive in a global marketplace. The board’s first meeting was scheduled for November.

The 50 members include representatives of business, labor, community-based organizations, community colleges, city and county officials, youth, state government and legislature. They’ll help the governor develop a five-year strategic plan for work force development as mandated by the Workforce Investment Act of 1998, which authorizes a new work force system to replace the Job Training Partnership Act and other provisions of federally-funded job training programs.

Issuing kudos

Want examples of how you can better handle work force issues? Look to these employers, recently lauded by the governor for their efforts in workers’ compensation and training excellence.

Taft and James Conrad, administrator of the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, presented 15 businesses with the Governor’s Excellence in Workers’ Compensation awards this fall. Employers were selected based on criteria including:

  • Demonstrating exemplary commitment to creating a safe workplace;

  • Administrating an outstanding cost-containment program;

  • Exhibiting active senior leadership;

  • Encouraging employee involvement;

  • Achieving measurable results.

Winners were: Traub Container/MacMillan Bloedel Packaging, Bedford Heights; Elford Inc., Columbus; Performance Site Management, Columbus; Reitter Stucco Inc., Columbus; Herr Foods Inc., Columbus and Chillicothe; the City of Chillicothe; Hamilton County; Lithko Contracting Inc., Hamilton; Dana Corp.’s Forge Plant, Marion; Marion Steel Co., Marion; Royster-Clark Inc., North Bend; Benjamin Steel Co. Inc., Springfield; The Medical College of Ohio, Toledo; Community Skilled Health Care Center, Warren; and Gasser Chair Co. Inc., Youngstown.

Taft also honored four companies with the Ohio Workforce Excellence Award, established in 1991 to promote work-site training that prepares employees for changing technology and operations on the job. The winners:

  • Frito-Lay Inc., Canton, which spends more than $150,000 annually on the training and development of its 120 technicians. Training programs include Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” continuous improvement and leadership, as well as health and safety issues.

  • Techneglas Inc., Columbus, where a co-op program begun 25 years ago has filled nearly 100 percent of all entry-level jobs. Other training programs for the company’s 1,400 employees include apprenticeship remedial course work and state certification.

  • Roller and Cage Manufacturing, Stark County, which is a business segment of The Timken Co. Roller and Cage has its own training organization, as well as access to corporate-sponsored programs for continuing education of its 570 workers. Timken’s Learning Resource Center focuses on job-specific computer training.

  • LensCrafters, Cincinnati, where programs for 1,635 employees include management and leadership development; functional development training on technical competency; and retail and manufacturing training through methods such as traditional classroom, self-study and mentoring.

To learn more about work force development in Ohio, call the Ohio Bureau of Employment Services’ Workforce Strategies Division, (614) 466-0582.

Joan Slattery Wall (jwall@sbnnet.com) is an associate editor and statehouse correspondent for SBN.