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Mark Kvamme, Top Venture Capitalist, Offers To Head Ohio Jobs Program For $1 Per Year

ANN SANNER and JULIE CARR-SMYTH   01/ 7/11 04:00 PM ET   AP

Republican Governors
Ohio Governor-elect John Kasich

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Gov.-elect John Kasich chose a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist Friday to launch his new private economic development effort – and the high-paid executive has agreed to do the job for a dollar.

Mark Kvamme, a partner at Sequoia Capital in Menlo Park, Calif., will serve as interim state development director, Kasich said during an event at Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business.

Kasich announced during his successful 2010 campaign against Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland last year that he would create the private, nonprofit JobsOhio board to oversee state economic development efforts. Kasich, a Republican former congressman, Fox News commentator and Lehman Brothers managing director, succeeds Strickland on Monday.

The new governor envisions replacing the Ohio Department of Development with a 12-member board that would include executives, industry experts and entrepreneurs appointed by the governor. He has said not all the agency's more than 400 employees would lose their jobs.

Kvamme said about some employees would move to JobsOhio, while others will go to other state agencies.

"And some won't go anywhere," Kasich added. "The simple fact of the matter is is that if people don't do their job, they're not going to be there. And we also at the same time want to have our own team."

Kvamme said Indiana has a similar hybrid model.

Kvamme will serve as interim director of the Development Department during the process, probably for about six months. Under the JobsOhio plan, the department would lose its role as lead economic development agency of the state once the new board is in place.

In an interview with The Columbus Dispatch, Kasich said he expects Kvamme to land a seat on the board after the transition.

"The Silicon Valley is coming to Ohio," Kasich said Friday. "He will lift our game."

Kvamme and Kasich are longtime friends. The two worked together when Kasich was at Lehman Brothers, but they met in Washington, D.C., the governor-elect said.

Kasich said Kvamme's job will include sorting out tax incentive and job creation programs and determining which are most effective.

Some of the department's current programs, such as weatherization, will be moved to other agencies, Kasich said.

Kvamme acknowledged at the news conference that he knows very little about public policy, but said he looks forward to learning that aspect of the job quickly.

Details of the transition to the JobsOhio model will need to be approved by the Republican-led Legislature.

Kvamme joined Sequoia Capital in 1999, according to the Board of Directors biographies on social-networking site LinkedIn.

He was chairman of USWeb/CKS and chairman and CEO of CKS Group before the merger with USWeb. Earlier in his career, he served as a director of international marketing for Wyse Technology and as president and CEO of International Solutions.

He was also a founding member of Apple France.

Kvamme has a bachelor's degree in French economics and literature from the University of California at Berkeley.

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Filed by Nicole Hardesty  |