Crain’s editorial: Back to basics

Members of the Ohio Legislature who are eager to turn the state into a laboratory for hard-right social experimentation — even more, that is, than they’ve already done — should take a look at the message being sent in neighboring Indiana by two of that state’s largest employers.

In the wake of Indiana this month passing one of the most restrictive anti-abortion laws (even more than Ohio’s) in the country, Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical giant, said it’s concerned about its ability “to attract diverse scientific, engineering and business talent from around the world. While we have expanded our employee health plan coverage to include travel for reproductive services unavailable locally, that may not be enough for some current and potential employees.” As a result of the law, Lilly concluded, “We will be forced to plan for more employment growth outside our home state.”

Cummins, an engine manufacturing company, had a similar reaction. It said it’s “deeply concerned about how this law impacts our people and impedes our ability to attract and retain a diverse workforce in Indiana. As we continue to grow our footprint with a focus on selecting communities that align with our values ​​and business goals, this law will be considered in our decision-making process.”

It’s fair to ask why, if these companies were so concerned about the law, they didn’t speak out vigorously against it before it was passed. (Answer: Corporations are more comfortable issuing statements than acting on these types of issues.) We take them at their word, though, that the law makes them less likely to pick their home state the next time they have a big expansion project.

And that makes sense. In a knowledge economy, companies are highly reliant on people with creative minds and special talent. Automated and repetitive tasks, with a relatively easy-to-replace workforce, are far less important. The talented, tech-driven workers that most companies are chasing have lots of options — and states with hardcore laws on abortion, or marriage, or contraception, or whatever else a conservative legislature might target, generally are not appealing.

Ohio business and political leaders are justifiably excited about the potential economic impact of Intel Corp.’s massive chipmaking operation set for the Columbus area. The state should focus on tax and regulatory matters that help put Intel and other companies in the best position to hire good people. Ohio needs growth-oriented policies. Additional, divisive social-issues legislation will only set the state back.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Back to top button

Adblock Detected

Please consider supporting us by disabling your ad blocker