Audra Casebier plans to graduate in December, and after graduate school in New Jersey, the 22-year-old vocal performance major will start looking for her big break.

Chances are she won’t find it in Ohio.

“I’ll go wherever the work is, and right now in the Cleveland area, there isn’t a whole lot of opportunity for performing,” Casebier said.

This willingness to leave Ohio for work is prompting state officials to offer ways for college-educated and skilled workers to find jobs. They’re also trying to create incentives that will stem the migration of Ohioans to other states.

OhioMeansJobs.com, a website powered through a contract with Monster.com, allows Ohio job seekers find work in Ohio. Visitors can register to upload their resumes to the site for free, where registered employers can browse to find candidates.

Ben Johnson, spokesman for the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, said the website is updated multiple times a day to maintain current postings for a wide range of positions.

“At any given time there are 60,000 or more job opportunities,” Johnson said.

While OhioMeansJobs.com aggregates postings using the same technology as Monster.com, it is entirely free to both job seekers and employers.

The website is also useful for current students who aren’t pursuing full-time positions. OhioMeansJobs.com recently began posting internships as well, Kim Norris said, deputy chancellor and director of communications for the Ohio Board of Regents.

“If you can get an internship often that leads to a job,” Norris said. “This is a great opportunity to get that foot in the door…”

For each one percent increase in baccalaureate-degree holders, Norris said the state generates about 2.5 billion in economic activity as residents pump money back into their communities through taxes and car or home purchases.

“Sometimes it’s hard to understand your contribution to your community,” she said.

Another way to boast Ohio’s economy is to start up a small business, Norris explained.

Christopher Mazzagatti, 22, plans to do just that if he can’t find a job in Ohio with his business management degree after graduation in December.

“I just have roots, and I’ve invested in a house here,” Mazzagatti explained.

Even if he can’t find work, he said he doesn’t want to leave the state because he wants to remain close to family. Instead, Mazzagatti said he might decide to start a rental company, perhaps renting mobile stages.

Eight members of the 129th Ohio General Assembly are also addressing the issue of “brain drain” through House Bill 258, proposed legislation that would exempt college graduates and journeypersons from taxation for five years if they reside in Ohio for that time.

The legislation was first introduced during the 128th Ohio General Assembly by Rep. Cheryl Grossman, R-23, who introduced it again for the current session in June 2011 with Rep. Mike Dovilla, R-18, as her joint sponsor.

HB 258 would also restrict the Apprenticeship Council from adding stricter requirements to apprenticeship programs and prohibit any discrimination between open and merit shops.

It’s another incentive to keep people from leaving and to make life easier for those who are just starting out.

“The economy can only recover in this state when we have people working, producing income for their families and tax revenue for the state,” Dovilla said.

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Bethany English is a city reporter for the Daily Kent Stater.