Mandel surveys business climate PDF Print E-mail
Written by JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN Sentinel County Editor   
Thursday, 07 March 2013 10:50
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Josh Mandel, left, walks with Greg Kegler, Executive Vice President and CFO of The Kellermeyer Family of Companies. (Photo: J.D. Pooley/Sentinel-Tribune)
As he travels across Ohio, State Treasurer Josh Mandel hears that businesses are being buried by paperwork, sickened by "Obamacare" uncertainties, exhausted by energy costs, have trouble finding skilled trade workers, and wish Ohio was a Right to Work state.
On Wednesday, Mandel was in Bowling Green to learn how the state can create a better climate for business.  
As he walked past the towering stacks of salt bags, bubble wrap and toilet paper at the Kellermeyer company in Bowling Green, Mandel talked to the owners about their business which distributes industrial janitorial supplies.
When Mandel found out the third-generation Kellermeyer company has 49 employees, he asked if that was an intentional attempt to avoid "Obamacare" mandates.
"Fifty is that trigger," he said, of the maximum employees before a company has to meet new health insurance requirements. "It's a game changer for a lot of businesses."
Kellermeyer owners Greg and Jill Kegler explained their company has learned to work more efficiently without increasing employees.
"I personally think it's a job killer," Mandel said of the health care reform.
Mandel then joined a roundtable discussion at the company with about 25 business leaders, sponsored by the Bowling Green Chamber of Commerce. The state treasurer has been making such stops around Ohio to learn what programs are working and how the roadblocks can be removed for businesses in the state.
In Bowling Green, Mandel heard concerns, such as:
• Jill Kegler, of Kellermeyer, noted that according to federal law her company qualifies as a minority owned business. However, under Ohio law it does not, meaning the company can't benefit from certain requirements for minority businesses.
• Walt Churchill, who noted he was a fellow "jarhead" with former Marine Mandel, told of his difficulty selling a former Churchill grocery store because of EPA red tape. "We can't sell the damn building," he said. Mandel said that while he has no jurisdiction over the EPA, he would make a phone call on Churchill's behalf. Mandel said the EPA is doing a better job working with businesses since John Kasich took over as governor. He stated his belief that the EPA can protect the environment without standing in the way of economic development. "At the least, they owe that to those of you who are putting food on the table," Mandel said to Churchill.
• Gretchen Schroeder, of Phoenix Technologies, asked Mandel to reduce the paperwork burden put on companies when an employee is let go or files for workers compensation. "I understand there are bad employers who are trying to cheat people," but many are legitimate, she said. Mandel acknowledged that the state can do a better job using technology to reduce paperwork. "We need to disrupt the 'this is how we've always done it' attitude," he said.
• Sue Clanton, of the Bowling Green Community Development Foundation, reported that she frequently hears complaints from businesses struggling with overwhelming paperwork requirements from the state. "It needs to be streamlined," Clanton said. Mandel agreed, saying companies waste too many hours on legal and paperwork issues, when instead they could "actually focus on business and putting product out the door," he said.
• Bowling Green Mayor Richard Edwards and Pemberville Councilman Randy Rothenbuhler spoke in support of House Bill 5, which is intended to simplify municipal tax collections. Both said they back the change since the bill no longer requires tax revenue to be shipped to Columbus prior to going to municipalities.
 

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