GREENVILLE — The Darke County Chamber of Commerce welcomed Ohio Treasurer Robert Sprague for their 13th annual Groundhog Day event on Friday.
Sprague offered a glimpse into Ohio’s success story, and the role the treasurer’s office plays in that success as trusted stewards of Ohio’s taxpayer dollars, wise investors in Ohio’s future, and bold innovators for the people of Ohio.
Their goal, said Sprague, is to make lives better, starting with the recent launch of the Compass Award, which recognizes those who aid youth in developing financial literacy.
Ohio’s eight independent chapters of Junior Achievement were the first Compass Award recipients.
Junior Achievement provides youth with not only financial literacy but the necessary knowledge and skills to make wise academic choices.
According to Sprague, 88 percent of those who complete the Junior Achievement program report being satisfied with their careers.
“Isn’t that great for kids to be satisfied with the choice they are making?” said Sprague, with half of those alumni students able to pay their student debt off in ten years compared to 21 years for the rest of the country.
It emphasizes the financial calculations in the lives of students who participate in Junior Achievement, continued Sprague with highlights on other programs including Ag Link
Ag Link will be of interest to area farmers as this program provides eligible farm operators and agribusiness owners an up to three percent interest rate reduction on operating loans of $150,000 or less.
For the small business owner, the State Treasurers’ office provides the GrowNOW program with a similar offering of up to three percent interest rate reductions on new or existing loans up to $400,000.
While Sprague did not elaborate during the luncheon, his office also offers ReEnergize Ohio, an interest rate reduction in business-related costs, and ECO-Link, for home improvement rate reductions.
Sprague also highlighted ResultsOHIO that addresses addiction, infant mortality, water quality, and more as a results-driven “pay for success” program. One of those programs is ZeroBack, which aims to reduce recidivism within the prison population as part of a public-private partnership.
“[Recidivism]is obviously very costly to the state, but the real cost is to the communities they go back to and commit additional crimes,” said Sprague, who briefly shared the story of Cleveland-based executive Tim Johnston.
Johnston, as the inspiration for the ZeroBack program, utilizes prior experience to educate and train prisoners in preparation for their release back into the community.
“The best thing about this program is if it doesn’t work, not a single penny of your hard-earned taxpayer dollars is going to be spent on the program,” said Sprague. “If it produces results, we’ll all benefit from it.”
The treasurer also shared information on the STABLE Account that allows those with disabilities to save and invest their money without losing public assistance eligibility. For example, a current Medicaid rule stipulates that anyone with a disability and more than $2,000 in checking will lose their benefits.
“It really disincentivizes individuals with disabilities from living and working out in your community,” explained Sprague with the solution being STABLE Account, which allows up to $12,000 in deposits a year.
Sprague was pleased that since taking office last year, the no-fee STABLE Account membership has grown from 9,500 to over 14,000, or by 40 percent. He emphasized the hard work of his staff, who has spoken with families about “this great financial product.”
More information on the State Treasurer’s Office programs can be found at ohiotreasurer.gov.
Reach reporter Bethany J. Royer-DeLong at 937/548-3330 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more news, features, and sports at DarkeCountyMedia.com.