On Feb. 7, Gov. Kasich delivered his State of the State speech at Wells Academy in Steubenville. During his address, he mentioned some exciting new developments in our state, and I would like to share a few of the highlights.
In his speech, the governor stressed the importance of workforce development. Without the proper training, our citizens will not have the skill level to fill well-paying, lucrative job positions in their communities. Back in November, I led a four-county tour of the 93rd District with JobsOhio Director Mark Kvamme, focusing on workforce development, economic development, infrastructure needs, and the opportunities provided by the shale play. Participants included Belmont Technical College, Washington State Community College and Zane State; Mid East Career and Technical Colleges, as well as CSX and the Ohio Rail Development Commission, and the Deputy Directors of ODOT Districts 5 and 10; Dominion East Ohio and Columbia Gas; The Ohio Petroleum Council, Energy In Depth, and the Ohio Oil and Gas Association; Murray Energy and B&N Coal; representatives of local government and economic development entities in Guernsey, Noble, Monroe and Washington counties, and field reps for Gov. Kasich, Lt. Gov. Mary Taylor, Senator Rob Portman and Congressman Bill Johnson.
During the course of the summer and fall, I served on the Ohio House Workforce and Development Task Force. We held hearings around the state, and many experts shared their testimony, highlighting successful workforce development programs and offering invaluable suggestions for improvements in the field. In addition, Gov. Kasich has spearheaded efforts to reform and reorganize state workforce development programs. This system has become overly complex and is marked by a lack of collaborative communication between the various agencies. The programs must work together to ensure that all of our citizens are able to receive the training they need to excel in the workplace. By creating a more unified approach to workforce development, Ohio will be able to fix this problem.
The governor also announced that MarkWest Energy, a midstream leader in the natural gas industry, will be building processing complexes in Harrison and Monroe counties. I have spoken with the company's representatives directly and will soon tour their facilities in Pennsylvania. The construction of these complexes will bring 740 new jobs in both construction and full time employment. Ohio is in the process of attracting more energy companies, ensuring that these new economic and employment opportunities continue.
Finally, Gov. Kasich unveiled the state's plan to invest more than $10 million to increase the speed of our state broadband network. Currently, Ohio's broadband network is operating at a speed of 10 gigabytes per second, but the new investment will increase this speed to 100 gigabytes per second. This upgrade will help to improve research and job creation efforts in our state. Here in Ohio, we are focused on tapping into the larger information-based economy, and high speed broadband is imperative for fields such as engineering and medical research to compete successfully. I am working with oil and gas companies and those in the pipeline and oil gathering field, to complete the broadband gaps in the areas where exploration is underway. I have encountered strong interest by major players to assist in this endeavor, which would speed up (no pun intended) the efforts that have been ongoing for more than a decade. I believe the private sector, especially in the energy field, is the key to success.
We need to see our energy producers as allies in workforce development, broader-based economic growth and in improving our infrastructure and communications networks. Ohio is poised for even more job growth and technological innovation in 2012, and I am eager to be a part of the process as the year continues to unfold.
Rep. Thompson may be reached by calling (614) 644-8728, e-mailing District93@ohr.state.oh.us, or writing to State Rep. Andy Thompson, 77 South High St., Columbus, Ohio, 43215.