Companies located in Ohio find it easy to do business internationally. The state offers strong resources that can support today’s growing global opportunities. In fact, Ohio ranks fourth in the U.S. for construction projects with direct investments from foreign-based firms, according to Site Selection, and the publication’s staff chose Ohio for a variety of reasons.

"One is our location,” says J. Michael Geringer, director of research at Ohio University’s College of Business and professor of international strategy. “We’re located in the middle of the country along major logistics routes, which is increasingly important today.” In fact, Ohio is within one day’s drive of 60 percent of populations in the U.S. and Canada.

Ohio also has a business-friendly climate. “The cost of doing business and the cost of living here is more affordable than areas like San Diego and Seattle, which is another reason international companies are coming to Ohio,” says Geringer.

For example, according to NerdWallet.com, the cost of living is 58 percent higher in San Diego than Columbus, and it’s 76 percent higher in Seattle.

Ohio has the know-how

Another big draw for Ohio is its knowledge base, which can support traditional and emerging sectors. A strong educational infrastructure includes universities and hospitals that are on the cutting edge of research in fields like medicine and technology. Ohio has four of the top 100 universities in the world for U.S. patents, including The Ohio State University, University of Cincinnati, Case Western Reserve University, and University of Akron.

Throughout the state, Innovation Districts are creating sustainable ecosystems of ideas, infrastructure, and talent. One example is the Cleveland Innovation District, which is transforming the area into a center of health care innovation and community health“In the 1980s, Ford was our biggest employer. Today, it’s Cleveland Clinic,” says Michael Goldberg, executive director of the Veale Institute for Entrepreneurship at Case Western Reserve University. Innovation Districts are also thriving in Columbus and Cincinnati.

Ranked among the country's top-five hospitals for the past 20 consecutive years, Cleveland Clinic was also ranked second in 2020-2021 as a top recipient of NIH funding. The influx of money has generated several new innovations in medical equipment, medical supplies, and medical diagnostic machines from the Cleveland medical cluster, says Geringer.

For example, NeuroWave Systems, located near Cleveland, created a drug delivery medical device for brain function monitoring and automation in anesthesia. TecTraum offers hypothermic therapy devices to mitigate concussion symptoms. And Athersys is biotechnology company focused on the field of regenerative medicine.

The state’s workforce also is steeped with experience in areas like advanced manufacturing. “The U.S. still is the second largest manufacturing country in the world behind China, and Ohio has a long history and a strong infrastructure of firms to support that,” says Geringer. “We’ve got the skills and experience in our businesses and in our workforce for manufacturing activities. And we’ve got people doing leading-edge materials here, like advanced plastics and electrical systems for vehicles.”

In January, Intel announced that it was building a $20 billion manufacturing facility in Ohio to help address the worldwide semiconductor shortage. And in 2020, Saica Group, manufacturers of recycled corrugated packaging headquartered in Spain, announced plans to open its first North American facility in the Cincinnati region. Company leaders cited Ohio’s talented workforce as a reason for the site selection.

Businesses have access to resources to thrive

Ohio’s business-friendly climate provides the resources businesses need to be successful. In addition to the state’s vast venture capital system, a variety of state and private programs and resources are available to help businesses find the support they need to grow.

“People are finding access to funding from concept and seed stage through becoming an independent entity that's viable,” Geringer says. “Many are being acquired and some by foreign firms. We’re not as sexy Silicon Valley or Austin, Texas, but the workers and the cost of business that makes us an attractive place for many companies to come.”

Ohio’s future is global

Ohio really is the center of the universe when it comes to cross-border business opportunities. To stay relevant, companies must adopt an international mindset, says Goldberg. “Today’s markets are complicated and challenging,” he says. “You have to think globally.”

Geringer says the notion of globalization has changed due to international supply-chain issues and trade wars. “Companies are looking much more at the total costs of doing business, and that includes stockouts and delays. Ohio is well-positioned because if you’re trying to locate in North America, we’re on the main thoroughfares for trucking, trains, and boats. Compared to 30 years ago, Ohio has also developed the culture with the urban elements that make it attractive for someone pursuing a career in business,” he says. Many cities across the state are magnets for millennials, from the major metropolitan areas as well as communities like Dayton and Toledo.“Ohio is already performing well, but there’s so much potential for the future,” he adds.