The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Board of Directors has approved a new Grow Ohio Incentive Program (Grow Ohio) in an effort to encourage economic development and job creation in Ohio.

Grow Ohio offers eligible new employers a 25% discount on their workers’ compensation premium for two years, or immediate access to participation in the group rating program, which was normally not accessible to new employers until the first policy year following the date of obtaining workers’ compensation coverage.

A new employer to Ohio is defined as any new business entity in the State of Ohio, or an out of state business that is new to Ohio and creates one or more jobs in Ohio after July 1, 2011. This program is not applicable to professional employment organizations, self-insuring employers, employers that transfer workers’ compensation experience, or employers not reporting an payroll after the initial payroll period in which they obtain workers’ compensation coverage. Further, the Grow Ohio program is compatible with other Bureau of Workers’ Compensation programs such as the Drug Free Safety Program, the 15k Medical Only Program, Safety Council, salary continuation and the small deductible program.

New employers have 30 days from the time in which they obtain workers’ compensation coverage to determine whether to enroll in the group rating program. If an employer does not make such an election, they will automatically be enrolled in the Grow Ohio program, receiving a 25% discount. This discount will be applied for the payroll period in which the new employer’s coverage becomes effective and for the four subsequent, six month payroll periods.

If an employer elects to participate in the group rating program immediately, they will be eligible to reduce their premiums up to the maximum allowable amount, which is currently 51%. Employers will receive the incentives on premium bills that begin in February, 2012.

Grow Ohio provides a clear incentive for new business growth with job creation in Ohio. However, only time will tell whether this program has a long term effect on job creation in Ohio and what the overall impact of the program will be on existing employers’ premiums throughout the state.