According to the Ohio Secretary of State Business Services Division, Ohioans filed for 171,073 new businesses in 2020, surpassing 2019’s record of 130,621 by more than 30 percent. Those statistics track here at the Toledo Chamber; in the 2020 fiscal year the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce served over 600 businesses, shattering the previous year’s number of 350 clients. Of those 600 clients served, the SBDC assisted 50 of those clients in starting a new business and helped secure $19.2 million in capital for business startups or business expansions in our region.
“I help people vote and I help people start businesses,” LaRose said.
Just like in starting new businesses, Ohioans broke new records in voting and poll working in 2020. LaRose’s office knew that absentee voting and mail-in ballots would be more popular than ever in 2020, so they began preparation early. To make absentee voting easier, his office redesigned the instruction form that comes with every absentee ballot for clarity and brevity, and it paid off. LaRose said that just .42 percent of absentee ballots were filled out in error in 2020 versus one in 100 ballots with errors previously. About 60 percent of votes cast in Ohio during the general election were cast before polls opened on Nov. 3, 2020. Of the 8,073,829 registered voters in Ohio, 5,974,121 cast a vote in the 2020 presidential election, once again breaking records. This compares to the 2016 presidential election when, of the 7,861,025 registered voters, 5,607,641 cast a vote.
All of the line management training and preparation, however, would mean nothing if election sites weren’t adequately staffed with poll workers. His office set a goal to recruit 150 percent of the minimum number of required poll workers in each county, as he anticipated many past poll workers bowing out due to concerns related to the pandemic and being around crowds. According to LaRose, 56,789 Ohioans signed up to be poll workers during the 2020 presidential election – another record-breaking number – which broke his office’s goal of 55,165.
Though the year 2020 brought about plenty of changes, many of them unfavorable, Ohioans and the Ohio business community proved its resiliency, optimism and desire to move forward – taking with them lessons learned during a difficult year.
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