By J.P. Nauseef, President and CEO, JobsOhio
Ohio sits at the heart of a generational economic renaissance. From the shores of Lake Erie to the hills of Appalachia and the Ohio River, global industry leaders are betting big on Ohio – pouring in capital to tap into the state’s skilled workforce, central location, rich natural resources, top-ranked universities and hospital systems, low cost of living and pro-business policies. Such broadly attractive qualities explain why Ohio ranks 8th in the nation for industrial diversity and is rapidly adding new industries.
Companies are investing in the Buckeye State because Ohio has what businesses want most – infrastructure, talent, innovation, and ample affordable sources of energy. The state offers companies and their people another competitive advantage – JobsOhio, the state’s unique private economic development corporation, which I have the honor of leading.
JobsOhio offers concierge services and robust incentives to 10 targeted industrial sectors, including advanced manufacturing, automotive, aerospace, technology, life sciences, financial services, chemicals, logistics, and agribusiness. We work alongside the state but come to the table with our flexible and private resources to show companies what makes Ohio the premier destination for industrial expansion and job creation.
A Winning Strategy
The DeWine-Husted Administration’s unwavering commitment to economic growth through site preparation, utility access, workforce readiness, and revitalization initiatives during the pandemic opened opportunities for Ohio to land an outsized share of the industrial reshoring and onshoring that followed – concurrently jumping from #11 to #2 nationally in megaproject commitments. Count major industrial projects from Abbott, Amgen, Amazon, Ford, GM, General Mills, Honda, Intel, LG Energy Solution, Medpace, Sierra-Nevada, Ultium Cells, and most recently Joby Aviation in Ohio’s win column.
Site Selection magazine’s Global Groundwork Index recently rated Ohio as the #1 state for economic development and infrastructure projects from 2019 to 2023 based on job creation, capital expenditures, and strategic infrastructure. Ohio generated more than 102,000 new job commitments and $62.24 billion in investments based on our JobsOhio data from 2019 through 2023. Notably, these figures don’t include associated construction jobs or state government projects.
Ohio’s major project wins have been fueled by visionary pro-growth policies passed by the Ohio Legislature. Our state leaders recognize the positive returns on previous investments and are determined to sustain Ohio’s momentum. The state’s $86 billion biennial (FY’ 24-’25) budget lays out Ohio’s game plan for further enhancing the critical infrastructure, workforce development, and innovation ecosystems that support both private sector success and the public good.
Investing in Sites and Infrastructure
With plenty of developable land within a day’s drive of 60 percent of the population of the U.S. and Canada, Ohio offers unmatched advantages for companies selecting sites to expand or relocate. The state’s inventory already includes shovel-ready greenfield locations and revitalization opportunities suited for projects across all our target sectors.
The cornerstone of the state’s budget strategy is to double down on industrial site identification and development with the All Ohio Future Fund. This $750 million fund will support the preparation of large-scale economic development sites requiring robust water, sewer, energy, and other infrastructure. Ohio is preparing these sites to meet the needs of major projects—semiconductor fabs, industrial recycling, and other advanced manufacturing.
The biennial budget provides another $124 million to enhance water infrastructure (the state ranks #1 for water availability in Area Development’s newly published annual Top States for Doing Business survey of professional site selectors), remediate brownfield sites, and pursue demolition and site revitalization projects to improve quality of life and support economic growth in Ohio communities.
JobsOhio complements these government efforts by partnering with companies to identify tailored site solutions that meet their unique needs. JobsOhio’s end-to-end due diligence covers environmental considerations, wetlands, and archaeological studies. JobsOhio’s site selection team facilitates fully informed location decisions that speed permitting and get operations up and running fast.
Once operational, efficient movement of goods to regional, national, and international markets is another vital consideration. Here again, Ohio has business needs covered. We have the fourth-largest interstate highway system in the nation, with nearly 7,000 lane miles on eight major routes and the fourth-largest network of operating railroads. Ohio has seven commercial air carrier airports and 97 general aviation airports, and we are regularly adding new flights through the JobsOhio Commercial Air Service Restoration program.
With infrastructure assets spanning roads, rails, runways, and waterways, businesses have the flexibility and connectivity needed to thrive.
Investing in Workforce Readiness
Ohio boasts the nation’s third-largest manufacturing workforce and ranks #1 for workforce productivity in the Midwest. The state is home to over 80 universities, graduating 21,000 engineers and scientists annually. And Ohio is laser-focused on expanding the state’s formidable talent resources.
At a time when technology is vital to every Ohio company, the state’s highly successful TechCred program gained another $50 million in funding. This program will yield 20,000 technology-focused credentials in each of the next two years, equipping Ohio workers with essential skills and empowering them to thrive in Industry 4.0.
Ohio also invests in modern learning environments, encouraging students to develop the skills needed for in-demand jobs. The state is allocating $100 million to Ohio’s Career Technical Centers and supporting the purchase of equipment for career-technical education programs through its Career-Tech Equipment Grants. Another $200 million is being dedicated to Career-Tech Construction Grants, facilitating the expansion of career-technical schools across Ohio.
JobsOhio partners with Ohio businesses to build and sustain the skilled workforce they need. Our Talent Acquisition Services (TAS) program provides customized recruitment strategies to help companies fill high-demand roles. TAS consultants work alongside company talent teams to assist with candidate identification, screening, and training. The JobsOhio Workforce Grant program also invests in upskilling employees through flexible funding for technical skills training, leadership development, equipment, and more.
Investing in Innovation Hubs
Lastly, Ohio is creating Innovation Hubs, regional innovation ecosystems driven by unique and existing expertise and legacy industries. With $125 million in funding, these hubs will create jobs, increase STEM talent, attract research funding and outside capital investment, commercialize new products, and ultimately make a significant impact on Ohio and the world, complementing JobsOhio’s Growth Capital Fund, our Research and Development Center Grant program and the state’s $3 billion Innovation Districts program, which has already cultivated thriving networks in Columbus, Cincinnati, and Cleveland.
In a rapidly evolving global economy, deciding where to establish or expand a business is pivotal. Ohio presents a compelling case as business leaders weigh each decision against potential risks and rewards. Companies in Ohio are not just investing in a location; they are investing in a partnership with a state that is deeply committed to their success.
Ohio is more than a choice for business leaders looking for expansion – it’s the solution.