O2: Intellectual Oxygen to Feed the Fire

When you think of Ohio’s economy, what comes to mind? It’s probably not plentiful jobs, expanding opportunities for people to start the business of their dreams, or prosperous communities with an improving quality of life. We use to have them. Sure, the nation as a whole is in an economic slump, but economic stagnation and decline has gripped Ohio for years making it one of the worst performing states.

Can we do anything about it? We believe the answer is yes. We love our state and want to leave a better Ohio for our children and grandchildren. We still believe in the power of ordinary citizens to come together to make positive change in our communities. We know that a little bit of commonsense would go a long way to bringing practical solutions to getting Ohio back on track.

Opportunity Ohio (O2) is dedicated to enhancing prosperity for Ohioans through educating policymakers and citizens. We pay particular attention to the impact of state and local government decisions and how they foster or hinder job creation and economic growth. Our strategic aim is to provide our leaders with sound policies for a better tomorrow.

We focus on three key areas.  First, we firmly believe that the future of Ohio depends on increasing economic freedom and competitiveness in all parts of our economy. We believe government must provide a fair and level-playing field where everyone is equal before the law, not doling out special favors to insiders, subsidizing those with the best lobbyists, or protecting certain industries from competition and innovation.

Next, an economy geared to the promotion of job creation and entrepreneurship is the only way to ensure that those looking to start or grow a business and those seeking quality work can blossom. We must ensure that government policies spur business and attract the best and brightest by giving a voice to those who create jobs and free Ohio’s risk-takers from government actions that impede growth.

Finally, the cost and burden of government cannot continue to make Ohio among the worst states economically, so we must institute strong government reform and accountability measures. Elected officials and the people who run our state and local governments must be accountable for providing transparent, honest, and open government that works. Taxes and regulations – and the size of government – must be kept in check so that the best and brightest Ohioans stay here rather than flee to more hospitable pastures.

We live in a world where it’s easy for businesses to create jobs anywhere – be it in the 49 other states or other countries. O2 aims to make Ohio a thriving state once again by reforming government policies so we keep and attract those men and women who create good jobs.

Matt A. Mayer, President

Matt A. Mayer is the President of Opportunity Ohio and monthly columnist for U.S. News & World Report. In his role, he develops strategic policy positions, advises policymakers on a wide-range of issues, designs and evaluates public opinion surveys, creates educational videos and collateral material aimed at key constituencies, engages with all elements of the media, conducts fact-finding missions, and speaks to groups in America and Europe on a variety of topics. Mayer led a nine-state campaign to stop the expansion of Medicaid, and has conducted strategic policy summits for top state and national groups. Opportunity Ohio’s targeted educational videos have received more than 14.5 million views on social media in the last two years. Mayer accurately predicted the current budget deficit in Ohio, the enormous enrollment in Medicaid that surpassed government estimates, and Ohio’s continued mediocre private sector job market.

Mayer has written and spoken extensively on the importance of competitive federalism in renewing the American promise. Previously, Mayer served as a Visiting Fellow for the American Enterprise Institute and the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. where he wrote extensively on national security issues. Mayer has worked in public policy and politics at both the state and federal levels. He was a senior official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security where he provided DHS leaders with policy and operational advice as the Counselor to the Deputy Secretary, including participating in crisis management activities following Hurricane Katrina. He also headed the $3.5 billion terrorism preparedness office charged with developing initiatives to transform America to meet the demands of a post-9/11 environment.

Mayer came to DHS from Colorado where he served as the Deputy Director for the Department of Regulatory Agencies. He co-developed Colorado’s Regulatory Notice system that utilizes electronic mail to notify stakeholders of all proposed regulations before those regulations become final. The Regulatory Notice system earned the Denver Business Journal’s 2003 “Innovative Product/Service Award” for making government more transparent and accountable. Mayer’s concept of restoring federalism received the runner-up prize in the 2012 Better Government Competition.

Mayer was a 2007 Lincoln Fellow with The Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy and a 2006 American Marshall Memorial Fellow with the German Marshall Fund of the United States. In September 2005, The Ohio State University Alumni Association awarded Mayer the William Thompson Oxley Award for early career achievement. At the age of 29, the Denver Business Journal recognized Mayer as one of Colorado’s young leaders by naming him to its “Forty Under 40” list. He also received the “Rising Star Award” from the Colorado Statesman for his work on political campaigns.

Mayer has written three books: The Founding Debate: Where Should the Power Over Our Lives Reside, Taxpayers Don’t Stand a Chance: How Battleground Loses No Matter Who Wins (and What to Do About It), and Homeland Security and Federalism: Protecting America from Outside the Beltway (with Foreword by the Honorable Edwin Meese III). He has written articles for law reviews, public policy journals, and newspapers, including the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and Politico; given testimony to the U.S. Congress, the Texas House and Senate, and the Ohio House and Senate; and appeared on Fox News, C-SPAN, ABC, NBC, and other major media outlets.

Mayer graduated from the University of Dayton and received his law degree from The Ohio State University College of Law.

Congressional Quarterly Players: Matt Mayer Girds for the Main Battle on Capitol Hill When the War Game Ends (April 5, 2006)

Mary McCleary, Visiting Fellow

Mary McCleary is a Visiting Fellow at Opportunity Ohio. She works in the private sector for Alliance Data Systems doing data analysis. Before ADS, she worked for the Ohio Treasurer of State’s office and the Buckeye Institute for Public Policy solutions where she wrote game-changing policy reports and op-eds that were published in major Ohio papers, appeared on television and radio programs, and spoke to liberty groups across the state.

Additionally, Mary contributed significantly to the groundbreaking government transparency tools on the Buckeye Institute’s and O2’s websites.

Mary graduated magna cum laude from Hillsdale College in 2009 with a major in economics and a minor in math.