CEO Corner

CEO Corner is a forum where Ohio business leaders address important issues. This issue, we asked three CEOs from throughout the state: What Are The Biggest Challenges or Opportunities Facing Ohio Businesses in 2019?

Daniel Walsh
Founder & CEO,
Citymark Capital

Ohio is a great place to start and grow a business. While we continue to have challenges related to talent attraction and capital formation, opportunity zones present a huge opportunity for the state.

The Federal Tax Law changes in 2017 created 8,500 opportunity zones across the U.S. and 320 in Ohio. Investments in new real estate developments and operating businesses in these zones create significant tax advantages for investors and bring much needed investments to underserved communities across the state.

Opportunity zones allow investors to defer taxes on capital gains for up to seven years, reduce the capital gains by 15 percent and forego taxes on future capital gains related to the opportunity zone investments as long as the investment is held for 10 years.

The structure of this incentive provides significant motivation for a long-term investment in opportunity zones that will create jobs and encourage spending. 

These tax incentives can unlock a new level of creativity and entrepreneurialism across our state, helping to attract talent and capital. It is critical that Ohio move thoughtfully, nimbly and collaboratively as we are competing with other states to attract these long-term capital investments.

Kimm Lauterbach
CEO, REDI Cincinnati

Ohio businesses have an opportunity in 2019 to influence the state’s talent base. The economy is strong on a national and state level, resulting in record employment numbers and continued strong capital investment and new payroll creation. The strategies being employed across the state to increase jobs and improve our economy are working. This creates an opportunity for businesses to think creatively about their talent strategy. Many companies that expanded in the Greater Cincinnati region in just the last 10 years are gearing up for a second or third expansion to accommodate their strong growth.

Here in Greater Cincinnati, we are seeing an increase in local companies shaping the direction of our talent base to match unique business needs. Our companies are making great strides in closing the skills gap through partnerships with our local education institutions and training organizations. These companies actively engaged in the high school and post-secondary space, building awareness and filling their talent pipeline. Taking the opportunity to improve on this collaboration will pay off for Ohio in the future.

Umberto Fedeli
CEO, The Fedeli Group

Nationally, we have three challenges that we are facing. I think the biggest concern we have long term in America is our deficit spending. We are spending significantly more than the revenue our government takes in—and it’s not just the $20 trillion we have in debt, but our unfunded liabilities. If we don’t get our debt and deficit spending under control, we will have problems down the road.

The second issue is that they don’t raise the interest rates too quickly and create a recession. The economy is doing well. We don’t have a problem with unemployment or inflation. The third issue is trade, which I think will get resolved.

The biggest concern you hear from businesses in Ohio is that they are having a hard time finding talented, qualified talent.

We are fortunate that we have two outstanding people who are becoming governor and lieutenant governor. Governor [Mike] DeWine and Lt. Governor [Jon] Husted are dynamic, hardworking and will engage the various constituencies that are important be it public or private sector. Unlike Washington, people in Ohio are able to work in a cooperative, collaborative and cohesive fashion.