7 reasons to choose Ohio

No matter your goal, here are some ways you can win in Ohio

Headshot of Ryan Hays

Ryan Hays

UC executive vice president and chief innovation and strategy officer

Lots of people love their locale, and for many reasons. It might be the culture, climate, cost of living, easy commute, bustling economy. But few states score high across the board. Which is why Ohio’s story is worth telling.

No matter your goal, here are seven reasons you can win in Ohio.


The seventh most populous state in the nation, Ohio is home to three iconic cities— Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland — that boast more than 2 million residents each. Few states not named California, Texas or Florida can say the same. Plus, a majority of America’s population resides within a day’s drive. The bottom line: You get good density and access without the gridlock and growing pains.


Ohio is the seventh largest economy in America, having added $11.5 billion to the state’s payrolls since the COVID-19 pandemic. From aerospace to agribusiness, Ohio’s industrial diversity — ranked in the top 10 nationally — is a distinct advantage. If affordability is a key driver, bank on this: Ohio ranks No. 1 in the nation for affordability per U.S. News & World Report.


While some states shrink their investment in higher education, Ohio is doing the opposite. From 2020 to 2025, Ohio’s Department of Higher Education is projected to spend 27% more across the state. That means more notable investments in the next generation of talent, research, technologies and commercialization. And out-of-state students are voting with their feet, making Ohio the fourth largest net importer of college students.


With a moderate climate, Ohio has avoided the extreme weather swings that cripple many regions. No wildfires or mudslides. No droughts or water wars. Rather, Ohio is rich in both natural resources and natural beauty.

Quality of life

When quality of life is measured by a combination of purchasing power, safety, health care, climate, cost of living, length of commute and pollution, Columbus ranks in the top 10 nationally, with Cincinnati close behind at No. 15. Cincinnati’s cost of living is the fifth lowest of 90 cities across all of North America, Canada included.

Economic development

Ohio established a premier economic development team, JobsOhio, back in 2011. Since then, JobsOhio has added nearly 200,000 new jobs to the state’s economy. Along the way, they’ve made Ohio one of the most business-friendly environments around. If you’re looking for Ohio’s unfair advantage in driving economic growth, the line starts behind JobsOhio.


Plenty of politicians talk a big game about innovation, but few actually deliver game-changing results like Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted. Partnering with JobsOhio, they helped launch the Cincinnati Innovation District in 2020 with a historic $100 million investment. They did the same in Cleveland and Columbus. Now they’re building a network of innovation hubs in smaller communities across the state.

Trust, it doesn’t take much to stretch this list from 7 to 77. But here’s the upshot: Ohio’s stock is high — and rising even higher.

Just ask Intel. They’re building the world’s largest chip-making complex, with an initial $20 billion investment, in the heart of Ohio. Honda and LG are investing $4.2 billion more in the state to advance electric vehicle technologies. GE Aerospace will run its worldwide operations from Cincinnati. As these mega visions scale, so too will the network of state-wide companies that supply and support them.

Just ask InnovateOhio. They’re striving to remove the red tape within state agencies, making them more customer centric, data driven, tech savvy and friction free. And they have a highly innovative leader, Lt. Gov. Husted, who won’t settle for anything less than real and lasting results.

Just ask founders and funders. They can’t imagine trying to build a company in other states plagued by high costs, heavy regulations, unreliable talent, unaffordable housing, and the like. Ohio, by contrast, offers them everything they need to thrive, including a big and diverse talent base tied to 14 public universities, 23 community colleges and more than 50 private colleges. 

Just ask Steve Case and Rebecca Fannin. The former’s book "The Rise of the Rest" and the latter’s work "The Silicon Heartland" chronicle Ohio’s pivotal role in transforming Middle America from Rust Belt to Tech Belt. 

To say I’m bullish on Ohio is the definition of an understatement. To my core, I believe two things about the future. First, America’s next century and global standing will be won (or lost) in the Heartland. Second, no Midwest state is better positioned to help America win that ideal future than Ohio. 

More than a place, Ohio is a movement. It’s a lead-forward, team-first, own-every-outcome march to unleashing what’s next. 

If you have the option, make the smart move: Choose Ohio.

Ryan Hays is executive vice president and chief innovation and strategy officer at the University of Cincinnati. He moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, from Princeton, New Jersey, in 2011. This article originally appeared in the Dallas Business Journal.

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