Third Frontier and State Politics

One of the keys to Advance Northeast Ohio’s success is forging a close relationship with the state of Ohio, which (despite its financial challenges) has the resources to support innovation and commercialization efforts that are essential to the long-term future of the region. NorTech has worked closely with the state to expand the Third Frontier program, which has attracted more than $500 million in state support of projects ranging from liquid crystals to cardiac care and from fuel cells to next-generation rubber.

Last week, two Republican leaders warned that the Strickland Administration was allowing politics to infect the Third Frontier program.

Here is a highlight from an Associated Press report last week:

In an unprecedented move, Senate President Bill Harris and House Speaker Jon Husted appeared jointly before the little-noticed Third Frontier Commission and urged a reversal of a July policy change that gives the state Department of Development a role in evaluating grant recipients. Both lawmakers are Republicans and Strickland is a Democrat.

Husted, of Kettering, said legislators specifically crafted the Third Frontier program to be free of political influence by placing grant evaluations in the hands of outside experts, including the National Academy of Sciences. He reminded Democratic Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher, who directs the commission, that the GOP did so at the urging of Democrats concerned the program could become a slush fund for then-Gov. Bob Taft, a Republican.

“We should assure the public that the best available science, not the best available connections, are determining who gets these contracts,” Husted said.

Author: advance759