COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gov. Ted Strickland addressed Ohio’s rising unemployment in his State of the State speech.

“I want to say something to every person in Ohio who is unemployed or under-employed: I am fighting for you,” Strickland said.

In December, the state’s unemployment rate reached 10.9 percent, according to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services.

The governor said he believes in Ohio because job creators know it is a good place to do business.

“The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council studies the business climate in the 50 states. They consider taxes and regulations and the like, and then rank the states on whether they are a good place to start and grow a business,” Strickland said. “In 2006, Ohio ranked 38th. In their new report issued just a few weeks ago, Ohio now ranks 11th.”

Strickland said he believes the biggest factor inhibiting economic recovery in Ohio is the inability for small businesses to expand their companies and call back laid off workers, even as orders increase, because they lack capital.

“If they miss this window to expand and innovate, it could cost Ohioans jobs for a generation,” Strickland said.

He announced that Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher and Treasurer Kevin Boyce are working with Ohio lenders to establish the Small Business Growth Partnership.

“The first initiative will be the creation of a business lending clearinghouse that points small businesses in the direction of possible sources for the working capital they need to grow their businesses and create jobs,” Strickland said.

The governor said they are meeting with lenders to establish a working capital jobs fund. He said the public-private partnership would become a dedicated source for business working capital.

“Let me be clear, this is not a bailout or a handout — these are loans for companies that could make more products, more profits and most importantly, more jobs if they simply had the required capital.”

Click here to read the full text of Gov. Strickland’s State of the State Address.

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