GALLIPOLIS — Gallia Chamber of Commerce members as well as Gallipolis city officials gathered in the Gallipolis Municipal Building Tuesday afternoon as the chamber symbolically received a $1.8 million check on behalf of all Gallia employers, a representation of money to soon be in the hands of Gallia businesses.
Gallia Chamber of Commerce Second Vice President Alex Waugh introduced Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation Administrator and CEO Sarah Morrison to the assembled.
“We’re here today to thank the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation for another successful year in the Billion Back program,” said Waugh. “Gallia County was lucky enough to get back $1.8 million thanks to the program. For a small community and small businesses like us, every dollar counts. That money can now be used for things like improving our buildings, maybe a new piece of equipment or possibly hiring more employees.”
“As Alex said, this a great opportunity for us to show what good partners we are with businesses around the State of Ohio,” said Morrison. “We several years ago at the bureau set to the goal to be a world class insurance carrier. You don’t hear a lot of people say that but that really is our goal….We’ve tried to do several things. We’re looking at employers and thinking about safety and investing in their people and getting injured people back to work.”
Morrison said a part of that is having a strong financial base. In the last several years, Morrison said the bureau had been conservative with its investments.
“When we set our rates for the premium we’re going to charge employers, we assume we’re going to get a four and a half percent return on our dollars we invest for the Ohio employers,” said Morrison. “But in fact over the last several years, we’ve been able to average seven percent on our investments. Because we outperformed what our expectations were, that’s why we’re in this position to give money back to Ohio employers.”
According to Morrison, over $1.5 million of the money to be distributed goes to private employers with the rest going to public employers.
“We don’t put any restrictions on how employers can use their money,” said Morrison. “We encourage employers to invest in safety and their workplace. But we expect business owners to exercise their best judgment in how that money can be spent.”
Morrison said employers receiving rebates should expect to receive their checks within the mail across the next week “or so.” She also encouraged employers to deposit the checks as soon as possible as they were only good for around 90 days.
Morrison said the bureau would also be rolling out new initiatives in an attempt to make workplaces safer places as investments. The bureau would continue to offer $15 million in safety grants across the state that can be garnered with a three-to-one match.
Dean Wright can be reached at 740-446-21342, ext. 2103.