Study: OARDC is economic engine


COLUMBUS – The Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center “is a consistent source of new products, processes, and techniques that help make Ohio’s agricultural producers among the most productive in the world,” according to a report released Jan. 14 by Battelle Memorial Institute.

The report also termed OARDC as “a substantial economic engine for the state of Ohio.”

Key role. “OARDC is playing a key role in keeping the agriculture and the food industries in Ohio on the cutting edge and keeping them competitive,” Walter Plosila, Battelle vice president, testified to the Ohio House and Senate Agriculture committees in Columbus.

Plosila, Deborah Cummings, program manager, and others in the Technology Partnership Practice at Battelle are in the midst of a three-phase assessment of the value of OARDC to the state of Ohio.

Two phases. The hearing concerned phase one of the study. The next phase of the study will look at future investments and where OARDC can have the greatest impact.

The external review was requested by the legislature as part of the 2003 budget process.

OARDC is the research arm of Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, and works closely with OSU Extension. It has 14 locations across the state, with a major campus in Wooster and large presence at Ohio State’s Columbus campus.

Findings. The study found that OARDC expenditures contribute $142 million in economic output each year that results in 1,576 jobs, directly and through the multiplier effect, said Simon Tripp, president of Tripp Umbach and Associates in Pittsburgh and a consultant to Battelle.

OARDC also generates $54 million in personal income for Ohio residents each year and $5.6 million in annual tax revenues.

Of even more value to Ohio’s economy is the impact of the research itself, Tripp said.

“These spending impacts are greatly eclipsed by the annual benefits generated by the applied and practical nature of the research and development of the center,” he said.

Battelle did not investigate the economic impact of every research effort under way at OARDC – more than 600 projects are in the works at any one time – but did delve into a few projects.

Projects. OARDC’s soybean breeding program, for example, generates $191 million in annual economic output, $67 million in income for Ohioans, and supports 4,030 jobs, Tripp said, describing the methodology used to assign the values as rigorous and conservative.

Tripp expects to see OARDC’s value to Ohio increase.

“In response to the opportunities presented in what has been termed the ‘Biotech Century,’ the OARDC has multiple new and emerging initiatives aimed at leveraging bioscience and biotechnology advances for the benefit of Ohio and Ohioans,” the report stated.

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