The man leading Ohio’s Silicon Valley experiment

June 4, 2012, 8:24 PM UTC

Mark Kvamme Credit: Sequoia Capital

Can a Silicon Valley insider save Ohio’s economy? That’s the mission of Mark Kvamme, the Sequoia Capital venture capitalist who traded his lush life in California to come east and help revive the Buckeye state.

My colleague Tory Newmyer writes about Kvamme in a new and fascinating profile, which I happened to suggest that Fortune do. I’ve known Kvamme for 20 years and saw him in action when I visited him in Columbus in March.

The Fortune profile is a unique twist on a classic plot that typically makes good journalism: Guy wins job/girl…Guy loses job/girl…Guy finds a new and better life. Kvamme was doing better than fine in Silicon Valley; he didn’t have to go east for what most people would view as a crazy mission impossible. But this risk-loving capitalist, who is 51 was looking for something more in life, seized the moment.

The success (or not) of Kvamme’s economic development experiment, which he’s leading for his pal Governor John Kasich, will have implications for other states struggling to overhaul their finances.

More than that, the story is intriguing because Ohio is an important swing state in this year’s presidential election. Yesterday in Charlottesville, Virgina, where I went for my college reunion, I attended a lecture by University of Virginia professor and well-known political prognosticator Larry Sabato. Mitt Romney’s running mate, he predicts, will come from Ohio: U.S. Senator Rob Portman. Sabato says that Portman is uncontroversial, beautifully boring (“vanilla”) and potentially critical to Romney capturing the critical state.