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 beaccountable 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 makeOhio 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 serves as President of Opportunity Ohio and a Visiting Fellow on homeland security issues for the American Enterprise Institute. Previously, Mayer wrote and spoke on national security and federalism issues as a Visiting Fellow with The Heritage Foundation. His federalism work earned the runner-up prize in the 2012 Better Government Competition. Mayer has been a national policy leader for more than a decade, with a bimonthly column in US News & World Report.

Mayer has appeared on Fox News, CSPAN, ABC, NBC, and other television and radio outlets. His op-eds have been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, Politico, and other print and online news sites. Mayer has testified multiple times to the U.S. Congress, as well as several state legislatures. He frequently gives speeches on national security, federalism, and politics in America and Europe.

Mayer is the author of three books.  Mayer’s first book, Homeland Security and Federalism: Protecting America from Outside the Beltway (with Foreward by the Honorable Edwin Meese III), argued for reversing the nationalization of homeland security by returning power to states and localities. His second book, Taxpayers Don’t Stand a Chance: Why Battleground Ohio Loses No Matter Who Wins (And What To Do About It), exposes systemic problems that have made Ohio fall from a national leader to a laggard. His third book, The Founding Debate: Where Should the Power Over Our Lives Reside?, highlights to top five arguments from the Federalist and Anti-Federalist, as well as excerpts from ten key Supreme Court cases, to help readers decide where they think the power should be.

Prior to his public policy work, Mayer was a senior official at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security under the leadership of Secretaries Tom Ridge and Michael Chertoff where he provided DHS leaders with policy and operational advice as the Counselor to the Deputy Secretary and where he 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 Governor Bill Owens as the Deputy Director for the Department of Regulatory Agencies. Mayer 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.

Prior to joining Governor Owens’ team, Mayer served as a deputy in Colorado Senator Wayne Allard’s reelection effort in 2002, and ran a widely hailed congressional campaign for a first-time candidate. As a result of his campaign work, the Colorado Statesman selected Mayer for its 2002 “Rising Star Award.”

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. In 1997, Mayer was the recipient of the ABA-BNA Excellence in Labor & Employment Law Award and was recognized as a Public Service Fellow.

Mayer graduated cum laude from the University of Dayton, with a double major in Philosophy and Psychology and received his law degree from The Ohio State University College of Law where he was the Editor in Chief of the Ohio State Journal on Dispute Resolution.

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.