COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine announced his $1 billion budget proposal on Monday, signaling to Ohio communities and businesses that help to recover from the pandemic is on the horizon.
The Investing in Ohio Initiative earmarked $460 million for small businesses in the state, many struggling to get by with restrictions to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.
DeWine lifted some of the curfews and issued guidelines last week.
The President and CEO of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, Andrew Doehrel, says he was surprised with the governor’s announcement Monday.
He said he didn’t know the funding was available in the state and says the relief is much needed.
“We’ve seen a beginning of the resurgence,” Doehrel said. “Things have eased up with restrictions, and bars being able to stay open a little bit later - all that helps. This is another good infusion that will take us another step and get us going in the right direction.”
In the package, $20 million for businesses that opened only last year and missed out on pandemic aid dollars, $40 million for indoor entertainment venues, and $200 million in grants for bars and restaurants, according to the governor’s office.
Doehrel said he was surprised with the certain provision for companies that just came into existence from January through March of last year.
"I wouldn’t have thought about those, but those are folks that haven’t qualified for other money from the Feds or anything...people that probably spent years getting ready to start a business and probably picked the worst time ever to try and launch a business," Doehrel said.
The relief funds are targeted mostly for the hospitality industry, the part of the business community that needed the help the most, according to Doehrel.
Childcare, manufacturing, or distribution businesses were not immediately addressed.
Doehrel believes the most beneficial part of the governor’s plan, isn’t in the plan at all. No increase in taxes, which may come as a break for those trying to budget their own bottom lines.
“The governor was adamant that there will not be new taxes. That’s critical, when government struggles for revenue the first place they tend to look at is business. And if business is suffering the last thing you can put up with is increased taxes. By not having tax increases in this budget is probably the best thing in this budget. And it gives businesses a box to work in,” Doehrel said.
A final plan approved by the House, Senate and the governor must be signed into law by July 1.