Kasich, who signed the legislation in front of crowd of downtown business owners, statewide tourism officials and museum visitors, was introduced by Rock Hall President & CEO Terry Stewart as "the biggest Rush fan I know."
As speakers blasted the band's hit "Tom Sawyer" about a modern-day rebel, Kasich quipped, "That's no way to get more money."
But the governor promised that Cleveland would benefit from the ability to better market itself -- which he hopes will help finally eradicate the dreadful "Cleveland jokes."
"If you make more money, you get a piece of it and then you have more money to promote Ohio," Kasich said.
However, no details have been hashed out yet as to how the money would be divided or how much could go toward marketing Northeast Ohio attractions.
The state has anecdotal evidence on what attractions are the top draws, which include Ohio's theme parks, Lake Erie and Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, Tamara Brown, TourismOhio public relations manager said. But many attractions don't divulge gate counts and other huge draws, like Amish Country, don't have a way of tabulating visitors to the region.
Kasich said he wasn't going to micromanage how Ohio spends its tourism money -- whether on a broad-based campaign to market the state as a whole or targeted campaigns for local regions and attractions -- or both.
Previously, the state marketed itself to potential tourists using about $5 million in general revenue funds -- which put it among the lowest-ranking states in terms of tourism spending.
The new model allows for up to $10 million each year to be spent based on increases in tourism-related revenue. For the current fiscal year, the budget will start with $5 million and next year will serve a benchmark for measuring growth.
In 2014, the marketing budget will be based solely on growth in industry sales tax receipts
The way the fund is set up, money doesn't have to all be spent each year and can be tucked away in case of a downturn in industry revenue. The law also does more perfunctory things such as renaming the state tourism department TourismOhio and establishes a governor-appointed advisory board for TourismOhio composed of people with knowledge of the state's attractions and amenities. It also continues the reshaping of the Department of Development into JobsOhio and outlines more specific rules for its operations. The question is whether the new tourism marketing strategy will allow Ohio to compete with its Great Lakes neighbors which already spend millions more luring out-of-state visitors.
The widely-lauded "Pure Michigan" campaign was launched in 2005 with the state sinking $13 million to $33 million each year into the big picture ad campaign, which markets the state and its attractions with a heavy dose of nostalgia.
Michigan uses a combination of tobacco settlement-related investment returns, use tax collections and other state funding linked to job creation to pay for the promotions.
In 2011, the state attributed 3.2 million visitor trips and $1 billion in tourism revenue directly to the campaign -- though some there have called for more independent study into the return-on-investment claims. Kasich said he wasn't a fan of the Michigan campaign, which he thinks is a snore.
David Gilbert, president & CEO of Positively Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Sports Commission said the big thinking behind Michigan's campaign is a great example of what Ohio needs -- though with its own unique message.
Gilbert said he's optimistic that the fund will meet the $10 million mark and that elevation in spending alone will help Ohio compete more equally with its peers, especially in out-of-state marketing.
Marketing to travelers from other states is more expensive but is seen as more lucrative to Ohio in terms of revenue and job creation.
Gilbert crowed that more than $2 billion in tourism-related projects are currently planned or underway in the Cleveland area.
Just a handful of those projects, he said, have created more than 4,500 construction jobs and more than 3,000 permanent positions.
State Rep. Mike Dovilla, a Republican from Berea, said the bipartisan legislation dovetails with the aim of JobsOhio, the state's private economic development arm, because of the potential job growth the tourism industry can create.
The state estimates that 439,000 jobs in Ohio currently are related -- directly and indirectly -- to travel and tourism.
For every dollar the state invests in tourism, it already gets a $14 return, said Dovilla, who co-sponsored the bill.
"That's a heck of a return on investment," he said.
Dovilla said the new investment added to what's already happening in Cleveland can only mean one thing.
"We're the comeback city once again," he said.