One of the largest states for polymer manufacturing, Ohio, hopes to build on its success through a targeted marketing effort aimed at top-level executives and a series of tax changes and loan programs designed to reduce the risk of investments.
The state's new marketing campaign, only 2 months old, emphasizes the broad scope of the state's polymer industry, and its location within 600 miles of 63 percent of all U.S. and Canadian manufacturing plants. It also emphasizes two recently funded polymer research consortiums and the polymer research centers at seven of the state's major universities.
A direct mail campaign to plastics industry executives began two weeks ago, and an e-mail campaign is set to start in the fall. Both mailings are building on an advertising campaign put in place earlier this year.
Already in place are loan programs to provide funding for new product and process development and another to finance buildings and equipment for research and development. But tax breaks that were approved by the legislature last year now are being implemented and will reduce tax burdens on businesses by as much as 63 percent, said Wayne Earley, executive director of PolymerOhio, an industry networking group.
The state already has exempted from taxes sales outside that state, and taxes on inventory will be eliminated Jan. 1, 2008. Corporate income taxes will end by tax year 2010. Taxes on machinery, equipment, furniture and fixtures will be reduced each year until they are eliminated in 2008.
``The tax law changes will break down one of the barriers to companies expanding or moving into the state and help attract companies that have significant inventories or that want to make significant investments in facilities,'' Earley said.
Lt. Gov. Bruce Johnson is hoping the changes - along with research programs and the loans - will help the state's $49 billion polymer industry grow even more. In the past two years, 80 new polymer plants or expansions were made in Ohio. In addition, $700 million in investments have been announced for the polymer industry in the past three years, according to the Office of Strategic Research in the Ohio Department of Development.
``We have stopped penalizing people for making investments in Ohio,'' where 68 percent of manufacturing is tied to durable goods, compared with 58 percent nationwide, he said in an interview at NPE in Chicago.
PolymerOhio's Earley further pointed to new opportunities created by the state's 10-year, $1.1 billion Third Frontier program, which already has awarded $40 million in grants to the Ohio polymer industry through the state's Center for Multifunctional Polymer Nanomaterials and Devices. The center also has received another $70 million in funding from companies in the state to commercialize new polymer technology over the next three years.
To develop bioproducts, the state has pledged $10 million, with another $30 million in commitments from plastics companies to the Ohio Bioproducts Innovation Center at Ohio State University.
Along with the loan programs, ``those research commitments help significantly reduce the risk of innovation,'' Earley said. ``It creates collaboration that speeds innovation and creates partnerships that open up new markets.''
The Research and Development Investment Loan fund provides loans from $1.5 million to $25 million to fund 50 percent of project costs at a current rate of 2 percent. The Innovation Ohio Loan Fund provides loans of up to $5 million to fund 75 percent of the costs for new product and process development at rates of 8-12 percent.