When it comes to economic development, Ohio has really turned it on the past few years. The state cut taxes, streamlined regulations and eliminated its budget deficit, all factors that contributed to Ohio’s record success last year attracting new and growing existing businesses.
So JobsOhio, the private nonprofit corporation established to drive job creation and capital investment in Ohio, worked with its marketing team to come up with the tagline “It’s On” for a recently launched ad campaign touting the benefits of doing business in Ohio.
“It’s On’ simply, but effectively, gets the point across that we’ve got it going on in Ohio,” said Kristi Tanner, senior managing director at JobsOhio. “Ohio is a great success story, and we have definitely become the place to launch or grow a business.”
Indeed, Ohio has a lot going on. For starters, JobsOhio had a record year in 2015. Working with state, regional and local partners, JobsOhio announced 330 projects that promised 23,602 new jobs and $6.7 billion in capital investments.
Those numbers reflect the state’s improving economic outlook. Ohio, in fact, is leading the nation in an economic resurgence. In the past five years, Ohio added 428,000 private sector jobs and cut more than $5 billion in taxes – the largest tax cut in the nation.
Others are noticing. In just the past few months, Forbes ranked Ohio second in the U.S. for its quality of life, fifth for its regulatory environment and 15th as the best place to do business. In addition, Chief Executive proclaimed Ohio’s business climate and economic outlook have improved more than any other state.
In other recent surveys and reports, Ohio has been recognized as the top state for micropolitan development, the eighth-best state for its tax system for small businesses, the top state in driving meaningful broadband use, the top state for growth among middle-market companies and one of the top 10 states for quality of life.
“Having independent organizations recognize Ohio as a great place to live and work adds a lot of credibility to our message that we’re a great place to do business,” Tanner said.
And businesses really are thriving in Ohio. The state’s traditional industries – Advanced Manufacturing, Agriculture and Automotive – remain strong. Last year, for example, Ohio autoworkers produced more than 1.5 million cars at six assembly plants. The state is also seeing major advances in emerging industries such as Biohealth, Shale Energy and Petrochemicals, Logistics and Distribution, and Information Technology.
Ohio sits on one of the largest shale plays in the United States. The Utica and Marcellus shale formations rest, in part, in Eastern Ohio. These underground rock formations house vast amounts of natural gas and crude oil. In fact, the Utica and Marcellas Shales are the largest natural gas reserve in the United States and one of the largest in the world. Technological advances in drilling allow oil and gas companies to tap these once-elusive resources.
Since drilling began in the Utica and Marcellus shale plays in 2011, Ohio has become a fast growing producer of oil and natural gas.
“These shale plays are at the center of an oil and gas boom that will have huge economic benefits for the state,” said Dana Saucier, Senior Managing Director of Shale Energy and Petrochemical for JobsOhio. “They have the potential to make our state a hub for the energy industry.”
The state is already benefitting from one potential project. The U.S. subsidiary of PTT Global Chemical, PTTGC America, has its eye on a location in Belmont County in eastern Ohio to build a world-scale petrochemical complex, also known as an ethane cracker. The company announced last fall that it was investing $100 million to conduct a detailed engineering design for the site, which sits on the west bank of the Ohio River across from Wheeling, West Virginia.
PTTGC America chose the site because of its location on the Utica and Marcellus shale play and because of its easy access to ports, pipelines, highways and rail lines. If built, the multi-billion dollar world-class ethane cracker would create thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of full-time jobs. A decision should be made in early 2017.
“This complex would serve as an economic anchor for the region and position Ohio as an emerging world-class energy center,” Saucier said. “It will lead the way for additional investments and spin-off companies involved in the petrochemical industry.”
A little more than 100 miles north of PTTGC America’s proposed site, a developer recently announced plans to build a large gas-fired power plant. The Lordstown Energy Center, which broke ground in June, will use the latest high-efficiency technology to generate 940 megawatts of electricity, enough to power about 800,000 homes. The $890 million plant will burn natural gas harnessed from the region in a combined-cycle gas turbine. Gas-fired generation is efficient and clean, producing just half of the carbon emissions of coal.
While the Lordstown Energy Center will make electricity using natural gas, Amazon will generate power on the other side of the state using wind. The electronic commerce and cloud computing company announced late last year that it would build a wind farm in Paulding County in the northwest part of the state. This wind farm, combined with Amazon’s three other wind farms, will deliver more than 1.6 million megawatt hours of renewable energy into the electric grids that supply Amazon’s current and future AWS Cloud data centers.
Three of those data centers are being built in central Ohio, adding to the growing number of IT companies that call Ohio home and reinforcing Ohio’s reputation as an up-and-coming IT hotbed.
Saama Technologies, Inc., a data analytics solutions company headquartered in Silicon Valley, last year announced plans to add hundreds of new jobs at its Columbus facility over the next three years. Company officials chose to expand its central Ohio location because of the region’s standing as an analytics hub and its easy access to East Coast cities.
“Ohio’s IT industry is growing. We have dozens of companies involved in data analytics, cyber security, cloud computing services, software development and other areas of IT,” said Ted Griffith, managing director of IT and logistics & distribution at JobsOhio. “They benefit from Ohio’s large pool of well-educated IT professionals, our innovation infrastructure, and the collaboration between corporate partners and higher education.”
They also benefit from Ohio’s growing logistics industry. Ohio’s geographic location – it’s within one day’s drive of sixty percent of the U.S. and Canadian populations – and its integrated infrastructure of roads, rails, air and water make the state an attractive location for IT companies as well as companies involved in all areas of logistics like Fanatics, JC Penney, Home Depot, lululemon, Zulily, and Victoria’s Secret that depend on logistics and distribution channels for their fulfillment operations.
Ohio also offers tax incentives, a skilled labor force, nine foreign trade zones, 10 intermodal railroad terminals, four air cargo terminals and seven commercial airports, and access to two of the largest inland water ports (Port of Huntington Tri-State and the Ports of Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. Clearly, Ohio has the resources to handle the logistics and distribution needs of any company doing business in Ohio.
Ohio’s turnaround in the past five years is a testament to the ingenuity, hard work and resilience of its people. Ohio created a competitive business climate, reduced the corporate tax burden, developed an educated and skilled workforce, and nurtured additional industries to keep its economy diverse and strong. Simply put, the state has done a lot to strengthen its economy and make itself the most desirable place to do business. As JobsOhio’s new campaign says, “It’s on in Ohio.”
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