From the start of this General Assembly, my colleagues and I have been focused on creating a business environment in Ohio that fosters economic development and job creation. We have made an active effort to improve the regulatory environment, lower the state's overall tax burden, and work with employers instead of burying them in red tape. This approach is working. Ohio has added more than 120,000 jobs since January 2011, moving the state from 48th to 4th in job creation.
JobsOhio has played a key role in our efforts to turn Ohio around. This new non-profit organization has changed the way economic development is done in our state. Instead of leaving development up to politicians and government bureaucracies, JobsOhio gives those responsibilities to people who have been successful in the private sector and who are focused on improving Ohio's business climate. This new organization has enabled us to move quickly and decisively on new opportunities. In just the past few months, JobsOhio has worked with a number of companies in the region, including Artiflex Manufacturing, The JM Smucker Company and the Long View Steel Corporation to invest millions in their operations in Ohio, helping to create 170 jobs and retaining more than 500 others.
Despite these successes, there is still much work to be done. In the Senate, we continued our efforts by passing Senate Bill 314 earlier this year. This legislation builds on the work started in JobsOhio by restructuring the state's Department of Development into the Development Services Agency (DSA). The DSA will work in conjunction with JobsOhio, providing essential services such as oversight relating to the administration of loans and tax credits used to assist businesses in Ohio.
Senate Bill 314 also establishes a new initiative to help boost tourism in Ohio. Tourism is a major contributor to our economy – tourists spent more than $40 billion in Ohio in 2011 – and I believe that efforts to promote Ohio will pay dividends to our local communities and our state as a whole. SB 314 creates the Office of TourismOhio to help improve the state's tourism efforts. An advisory board made up of industry experts will provide guidance on how to promote tourism throughout the state. The new office will be funded by a five-year pilot program that links funding to growth in sales tax revenues of tourism-related industries.
JobsOhio, and our state's bold new approach to attracting and retaining jobs, have been successful thus far. SB 314 will help us build on this progress. While much work remains, I am confident that by these policies will continue to help get Ohio back on track.