With $100M in funds for startups, a congressman who is promoting federal ICO registration, an option to pay your taxes in crypto, and a recent sold-out four-day conference, Ohio looks to be holding nothing back as it aims to cement its place as a leader in blockchain technology.
Being the home of Rock and Roll, as well as American Football, Hall of Fames, is nice, but Ohio's vision for the future is to be known for much more than that.
Ohio's Attorney General Mike DeWine and Secretary of State Jon Husted, soon to be lieutenant governor of the state, unveiled back in September a plan named "InnovateOhio," hopeful of transforming state government into a more "effective and efficient leader" in technology. One of the main initiatives of the program is to use blockchain to improve paper-to-digital records. "I believe it's imperative that we implement efficiencies across state government to make it work better for people and save taxpayer dollars," DeWine said at the time.
All the while, U.S. congressman Warren Davidson, from Ohio’s 8th District, is making a name for himself by pushing forward federal legislation that could have a big impact on the initial coin offering (ICO) industry in the U.S. After organizing a forum with industry leaders, lobbyists, and nonprofits on Capitol Hill in September to discuss ICO regulation, Davidson announced on Monday at the Blockland Cleveland conference that he plans to present by the end of the year a draft for a bill that will look to create an "asset class" for tokens. That would mean they would no longer be classified as securities, but nevertheless still be regulated by the federal government.
One week earlier, State Treasurer Josh Mandel announced a partnership with Bitpay to make Ohio the first state to accept cryptocurrency for business taxes. "We want to plant the flag in Ohio as a national and international leader in blockchain technology," he told CNBC.
"We want to be the state in the Midwest that everybody turns to."
One day before Davidson's appearance at the sold-out Blockland conference, technology fund JumpStart, together with six other funds from Ohio, revealed its plan to invest $100M in early-stage blockchain startups. According to JumpStart CEO Ray Leach, there are also plans to make a $200M investment over the next three years available for blockchain companies that take advantage of Ohio’s "Opportunity Zones," which provide tax incentives for firms willing to invest in poor neighborhoods.
"We want to be the state in the Midwest that everybody turns to," declared Husted, who endorsed blockchain by claiming it could create a secure, online identity for every Ohio resident. "If you would like government to be more involved in our lives, it’s a good thing for you because if government works better they have more confidence in it. If you’re one of those people that thinks you want government less in your life, that’s good too. It will be disruptive in a way, in a constructive way, that will help create efficiencies, save money."