Linda Woggon

Friday, 22 November 2013 00:51

A powerful force on Capital Square

A long-range plan recently adopted by the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Focus on the Future, includes strategies and tactics that culminate in a single goal to increase the value members receive from their Ohio Chamber investment.

The thoughts, opinions and ideas of Ohio Chamber members are incorporated into Focus on the Future through the use of surveys and focus groups. Over the years, members have urged us to continue our focus on these areas: 1) advocating for Ohio businesses, 2) educating members on legislative and regulatory issues and 3) taking a proactive approach to political involvement.

These three member-directed priorities, supported by the chamber’s mission, vision and primary goal of increasing member value, are the backbone of Focus on the Future. As this long-range plan is implemented over the next five years, Ohio Chamber members will experience an organization with the following:

  • A renewed sense of excitement and purpose.
  • Greater firepower and resources to advocate for its members.
  • An advanced technology platform to support better communications.
  • Higher quality programs, services and events.
  • A headquarters facility that meets the needs of its members and staff while appropriately reflecting the status of Ohio’s premier business organization.

The commitment and support of our members is not taken lightly. In return, we are committed to making their membership experience a high-quality one that gives back in a meaningful way.  We look forward to implementing Focus on the Future, a plan for strengthening the Ohio Chamber for tomorrow and beyond. Here’s a brief description of the plan’s major initiatives:

A powerful force on Capital Square

Building on its strong reputation the Ohio Chamber will become an even more formidable force on Capital Square. New media strategies will help improve communication with members, government officials and the public.

In addition, new committee processes, grass root and key-influencer programs will be used to help make member participation easier and more effective.

A leader on economic and business research

As our states premiere business resource and advocate, the Ohio Chamber will increase its investments in producing solid economic information that is helpful to Ohio businesses and research that informs the public policy process. 

A successful communicator

The Ohio Chamber’s multi-platform approach to communicating with our members will be enhanced by expanding social media strategies and updating our website.

Defining the chamber’s brand and improving our ability to implement public relations strategies will help build our name and image in every corner of the state.

A champion of quality membership experiences

Making sure members have a valuable and quality experience will continue to be a top priority. The number of chamber members will be increased, and even more importantly, the number of members who make a substantial investment in the work of the Ohio Chamber, our “Chamber Champions,” will be doubled over the next five years.

A sponsor of cost-effective programs, services and events

High-quality, cost-effective programs that help Ohio businesses save money will be offered and marketed statewide.

Additionally, opportunities to learn about key legislative and regulatory changes, attend events featuring business and government leaders, and network with policymakers and business colleagues will be offered in ways that facilitate effective participation.

A hub for business activity

Ohio Chamber members have access to our headquarters in downtown Columbus for chamber-sponsored events and activities, as well as member-initiated meetings.

New initiatives will help ensure ease of access to those opportunities and a physical infrastructure that supports the quality and quantity of member needs. ●

 

Linda Woggon is executive vice president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As Ohio’s largest and most diverse statewide business advocacy group, the Ohio Chamber has been an effective voice for business since 1893. To contact the Ohio Chamber, call (614) 228-4201 or visit www.ohiochamber.com.

Often overlooked in discussions about improving Ohio’s economy is the fact that actions taken by state and local governments are primary drivers of the cost of doing business. Their ability to levy taxes and impose costly regulations directly impact a company’s bottom line. When governments are inefficient, they need more revenue. When they take a command and control approach to regulations, they often become an obstacle to growth.

To ensure a strong, competitive economy, we need efficient governments that tax less and provide greater value. That’s why the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and our state’s eight metropolitan chambers undertook an important study issued in December 2010, called Redesigning Ohio. It offers a road map for transforming Ohio’s state and local governments into 21st century institutions.

Burdened with an unprecedented fiscal crisis and a projected $8 billion deficit, state government leaders were at an important crossroads. They could continue to accept the status quo or they could embrace reforms aimed at improving services and heightening productivity through greater flexibility and innovation.

The ideas advanced in Redesigning Ohio provided a framework for thinking boldly about ways Ohioans can receive more value for their state and local tax dollars.

Redesigning Ohio offers 10 specific areas for reform. The first proposes changes to the budgeting process itself by employing a unique approach called Budgeting for Outcomes. Two other innovations, Charter Agencies and Entrepreneurial Management, incentivize greater efficiency by providing more freedom to manage in exchange for less funding and by bringing market-based competition to government services.

Redesigning Ohio also proposes pension and civil service reforms that harmonize the public and private sectors and regulatory reforms that use incentives to boost voluntary compliance. In the health care arena, the report urges the government to leverage its buying power to foster greater competition, lower costs and better results. Redesigning Ohio also offers ways to reduce the cost of the criminal justice system and urges a more thorough and regular review of tax credits, exemptions and deductions.

Finally, Ohio has a costly and outdated system of 3,700 local governmental units that must be brought into the 21st century by enhancing productivity and promoting greater collaboration.

Now, two years after the release of Redesigning Ohio, the same nine Chambers of Commerce have issued a Redesigning Ohio Update. The new report details the progress that has been made and sets out the next steps in this critical transformational process.

As a result of bold actions taken by Gov. John Kasich and Ohio lawmakers, clear progress has been made in reforming our criminal justice system and Medicaid program. Most importantly, the reforms are not just reducing costs; they are also improving results.

One of Gov. Kasich’s first actions established the Common Sense Initiative, which focuses on creating a more jobs-friendly regulatory climate in Ohio. CSI has achieved a number of successes that are making Ohio’s regulatory process more transparent, efficient and less costly for businesses.

Also in 2012, the Ohio Legislature enacted public employee pension reforms that are an important first step in ensuring the long-term solvency of those funds and reducing the cost for taxpayers.

During the past two years, many local governments and school districts embraced greater innovation and collaboration, but additional work remains. The successes highlighted in the Redesigning Ohio Update can serve as excellent models for the additional work ahead.

Today, our economy is improving. Unemployment is at 6.9 percent and tax revenues are increasing. But, we cannot allow these improvements to justify a return to the status quo. With Redesigning Ohio as a guide, we must continue the work necessary to transform our state and local governments into 21st century institutions. ?

 

Linda Woggon is executive vice president of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. As Ohio’s largest and most diverse statewide business advocacy group, the Ohio Chamber has been an effective voice for business since 1893. To contact the Ohio Chamber, call (614) 228-4201 or visit the website at www.ohiochamber.com.