Guest Column: Has Ohio Conquered The Third Frontier?
Transforming Ohio's Economy for the 21st Century: What's Possible?
October 20, 2016
[ Bill Beagle Home | Bill Beagle Press ]

Initially authorized by Ohio voters in 2002 with a $1.6 billion state investment and reauthorized in 2010 with an additional $700 million, the Ohio Third Frontier continues to foster an "innovation ecosystem" that allows companies to transition great ideas from the laboratory to the marketplace. 

Ohio Third Frontier is an ambitious, innovative program, which supports applied research and commercialization, entrepreneurial assistance, early-stage capital formation and the development of a skilled talent pool to help drive technology-based economic growth. Funding for this innovative program has been a driving force in the effort to transform Ohio’s manufacturing based economy to one driven by technology and the spirit of innovation. The program enables entrepreneurs from all walks of life to bring their products to market, purchase equipment, create jobs and expand their companies. 

Just like any successful business, Ohio Third Frontier has evolved by building on both its success and failures. As Ohio's economy has changed, so has the Third Frontier program's focus. When I joined the Third Frontier Advisory Board in 2011, the program had reevaluated and shifted the ways it determined the success of its investments. In addition to profits and business growth, a new emphasis was placed on the number of jobs created. Another shift has been from providing grants to offering loans to companies in their early stages. This ensures that taxpayer investments are being returned and reinvested.

Governor Kasich's Administration deserves credit for its efforts to increase accountability in our taxpayer-supported entrepreneurial investments by bringing all of Ohio’s entrepreneurial activities under one roof at the Development Services Agency.

Most companies encounter the Third Frontier through one of the Entrepreneurial Services Programs (ESPs) across the state. ESPs provide services ranging from technical expertise and consulting to providing the capital necessary for success. Statewide access to ESPs is critical as they provide services ranging from technical expertise and consulting to providing the capital necessary for success. Several companies here in the Dayton region have experienced significant growth as a result of these investments and support. 

Assistance in research and development has allowed Renegade Materials Corporation in Miamisburg to expedite the commercialization of products that help increase fuel efficiency in commercial and military aircraft. 

X-spine Systems, Inc. was able to secure FDA approval to sell its reliable state-of-the-art implant devices to enhance patients' recovery when undergoing spinal surgery.

EnviroFlight, a Yellow Springs company, received an investment from the Ohio Third Frontier and services from regional economic development partners, allowing the company to harness the power of the black soldier fly to process food waste and create meal for livestock.

Ohio Third frontier is helping to transform our regional and state economy by creating an ecosystem that supports innovation and entrepreneurship. Building on Ohio's history of invention and creativity, businesses are revolutionizing everything from information technology to healthcare to advanced manufacturing. This month, Third Frontier Commissioners and the Administration will meet to begin considering what lies ahead for the program. The questions before Ohioans and its policymakers is not simply "what's next?", but rather "what's possible?"

To learn more about Ohio Third Frontier and how its investments are helping to transform our economy, check out the TechOhio website for the latest updates. 

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