As part of Ohio’s Third Frontier Program, the State of Ohio made a commitment to support the expansion and attraction of new industrial investments. As part of the $2.3-billion bond initiative to fund the Third Frontier Program, approximately $150-million was set aside for infrastructure grants to be dispersed as part of the Ohio Job Ready Site (JRS) Grant Program.
The goal of the JRS program was to significantly benefit Ohio’s regional economies by building an inventory of development-ready sites capable of attracting large industrial operations, along with their sizable capital investment and high-wage jobs. The grants off-set costs to help communities make necessary site improvements, including the installation of utilities and/or transportation infrastructure to the site.
Site issues for large properties are not easily addressed at the community level or within the typical decision timeline for a large industrial prospect. One of the stipulations for receiving the grant funding, was that each community and site owner agreed to perform the necessary due diligence to be certified as an "Ohio Job Ready Site".
The Ohio Development Services Agency (ODSA) selected Austin Consulting to manage the JRS site certification process for each grant recipient. Austin Consulting developed the JRS certification requirements to mirror the standards used by Austin when evaluating finalist sites for corporate clients. Meeting these stringent standards would ensure prospective companies that any site development risks have either been mitigated or clearly identified.
After the first funding round, Austin was brought on to assist with the competitive grant selection process, working in partnership with ODSA staff and other volunteers. Over the last three JRS funding rounds, Austin reviewed over 120 infrastructure grant applications – traveling throughout the state, meeting with each applicant, touring sites and developing a hands-on understanding of strengths and weaknesses of each grant application. Austin Consulting’s efforts and industry experience helped ensure the maximum economic impact for the state’s investment in infrastructure.
To date, Austin Consulting has certified 15 JRS sites. At the direction of the ODSA, Austin continues to work with grant recipients to ensure that each site can be authentically marketed nationally and internationally as an Ohio Job Ready Site.