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Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Chair of Ohio Chamber says state's business future bright

By Margie Wuebker

Dale Fallat, chairman of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, speaks to area business a. . .

NEW BREMEN - Dale Fallat, chairman of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce, believes the state's business future is bright given its diversity and bounty.
Fallat, who is employed as vice president of corporate services for The Andersons Inc., addressed community and business leaders Tuesday during the annual luncheon meeting hosted by the Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce.
He does not subscribe to the negative "rust belt philosophy" that surfaced in the 1960s, saying the state continues to benefit from things that occurred throughout history beginning with the Ice Age.
"Ohio is fortunate to have been glaciated," Fallat added. "Draw a line from Zanesville to Cincinnati with everything north involved in farming and everything south endowed with natural resources like timber, oil and vast coal deposits."
In addition, the state was left with 20 percent of the world's water supply placing it in an enviable position.
Early settlers like the Adena and Hopewell Indians introduced tool making, copper handling and astronomy at the same time Romans rose to power in the Mediterranean basin.
"We started out with a feeling of industriousness," Fallat said. "Waterways brought trapping, logging and other activities. The canal system became our first super highway, followed by the coming of railroads."
The spirit of industriousness led to the development of important business ventures like Bill and Jim Procter whose soap and candle operation mushroomed into Procter and Gamble, John D. Rockefeller Sr. whose foresight led to what is now Standard Oil Co., and Benjamin Franklin Goodrich whose rubber compounds replaced leather in many manufactured goods and eventually yielded tires.
"The Ohio brain trust is enormous," Fallat added. "And it has led to many enviable accomplishments."
The Cleveland Clinic ranks first in the world in cardiology and third among all hospitals. The city along the lake will become home to the Medical Mart - a huge facility that is expected to attract many of the country's 460 medical shows held annually.
Research currently underway at Wright Patterson will lead to a new era of space medicine, according to Fallat. Although ingredients for some medicines are still found in the jungle, moving molecules around in a non-gravity atmosphere offers the promise of large-scale development.
"Other states can't will themselves to be Ohio," he said. "We have the 26th largest economy in the world, down from 16th but we will come back."
Diversification results in a mixture of heavy urbanization as well as a rural economy. A chamber-sponsored survey indicates Ohio ranks third in the nation in infrastructure, ninth in innovation resources, 22nd in financial matters, 27th in human resources and 32nd in globalization.
"Our tax reforms show some benefits," he said. "If we don't tamper with the system, we could climb higher in the pack. We're not turning our back on manufacturing because we're good at it."
He expects Ohio to excel in the areas of polymers, medical science and nano technology, adding "The science fiction of the past is our future."
New Bremen Village Administrator Wayne York asked about changes in Workmen's Compensation now that a new board is in place.
Fallat admitted his friend, Tom Noe, did some "stupid" things in terms of investments and the board now faces the task of clawing back and looking at more than fixed fund investments.
In response to a question from Bev Hughes of State of the Heart Home Health and Hospice, Fallat said there are three prime factors affecting health care today - clinical depression, obesity and smoking.
"Insuring the uninsured is not that big of a deal," he said. "If we make a nick in the big three, there will be money to go around three times over."
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