Blade investigation discovers half of companies receiving state job-creation grants failed to generate promised jobs

From The Blade It’s a numbers game when it comes to job creation in Ohio.

A Blade investigation into whether taxpayer funding creates jobs revealed state documents contain vastly skewed numbers — inflating the number of jobs created by more than 11,000.

Officials at the Ohio Development Services Agency said they improved the process for tracking whether state loans, grants, and tax credits stimulate job growth, but The Blade found the state agency still is largely unaware if companies create the jobs they promise.

About 37 percent of the grant reports that businesses submitted to the state contained errors, including incorrect job-creation numbers. The Blade received reports that were dated as early as 2006 and continued through 2013.

The inaccurate grant reports are an example of lapses in the way Ohio manages its business incentives. The state often is in the dark about problems at firms and is hard-pressed to recoup the money it lends or gives to companies that fail to create jobs.

The state is dependent on the word of companies to assess whether they actually create jobs. Firms self-report their employment numbers via the Internet. Although the Development Services Agency, formerly the Ohio Department of Development, is responsible for keeping track of job-related data, its employees almost never visit businesses that receive state incentives.

And now, most of the records related to job growth are shielded from public scrutiny.

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