Ohio jobs-agency boss leaving for private sector

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The California venture capitalist hired by Gov. John Kasich for a dollar to help jump-start Ohio's job-creation efforts is leaving his state management job and returning to the private sector.

Mark Kvamme will resign as president and interim chief investment officer of JobsOhio effective Nov. 1, board Chairman Jim Boland announced Tuesday.

Boland said the board has chosen John Minor, one of the organization's managing directors, as Kvamme's replacement.

"Ohio has been fortunate to access the talents of a man such as Mark Kvamme at the time when we needed them most," Boland said in a statement. "Mark's leadership of JobsOhio, his intimate understanding of what makes job-creators tick, and his ability to reach agreement on projects that both protect the interests of Ohio taxpayers and help companies succeed have set the gold standard for economic success nationwide."

Boland said Kvamme will continue to live and work in Ohio "pursuing private sector opportunities that support the economic development and job creation mission he began at JobsOhio."

Kvamme's resignation came just two business days after the Ohio Supreme Court tossed a complaint the state had hoped would resolve constitutional questions surrounding JobsOhio and clear the way for the transfer of state liquor rights to JobsOhio in a deal worth an estimated $1.4 billion.

The ongoing lawsuit challenging the legal rights of a nonprofit corporation to control tax dollars was just one of the hurdles Kvamme encountered in his state roles over the past two years.

Kasich originally tapped Kvamme, a friend whose business acumen he admired, as his state development director. But after a lawsuit was filed alleging Kvamme's out-of-state residency made him ineligible for the job under Ohio's Constitution, Kasich moved him out of the post into a newly created non-Cabinet position, director of job creation.

The Silicon Valley entrepreneur held that job until JobsOhio was able to get up and running. He has been the fledgling board's founding director and investment expert during a period that includes assistance to 400 companies investing or expanding in the state, 31,300 new job commitments and $6.1 billion in capital investment.

"The world is waking up again to Ohio's potential, but more must be done and more will be done," Kvamme said. "I look forward to continuing to be part of that and to furthering the mission of JobsOhio in a different but equally meaningful way."

Republican House Speaker William Batchelder thanked Kvamme for lending his expertise to the state.

"His keen business sense and dedication to improving our economy helped to make Ohio competitive in the global economy and put us at the forefront of the national recovery," Batchelder said in a statement.

Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern handed credit for Ohio's economic recovery to President Barack Obama's administration's auto rescue. He said Ohio taxpayers aren't even aware Kvamme's been on the job because of hurdles JobsOhio has faced.

"As JobsOhio enters a new phase without its director, I hope the Kasich administration will do a better job than it has in the past of prohibiting conflicts of interest with Ohio's resources," he said in a statement.

Minor is a long-time investment banker. He served as managing director at Evercore Partners and as senior vice president at both Barclays Capital and the former Lehman Brothers.