From Ohio Business Growth Guide 2024

Ohio's Flight Plan for the Future

Joby Aviation lifts off in Ohio.

Electric vertical takeoff and landing (eVTOL) air taxi manufacturer Joby Aviation is locating its first scaled production facility in Dayton, Ohio.
Photo courtesy of Joby Aviation

by Mark Arend

light is in Ohio’s DNA. Ever since the Wright brothers designed and built the first engine-powered aircraft in Dayton at the beginning of the 20th century, the state has been an aviation powerhouse. Today, it’s taking that heritage and applying it to the future of flight. It’s where electric air taxis and other electrical vertical takeoff and landing vehicles, commercial space stations and other advanced air mobility programs are underway.

Ohio is home to multiple aviation and aerospace research institutions and facilities. These include the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory at the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence in Springfield, the NASA Glenn Research Center near Cleveland, NASA’s Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, The Ohio State University’s Aerospace Research Center in Columbus, the Ohio Aerospace Institute in Dayton and Cleveland and the Ohio Uncrewed Aircraft Systems (UAS) Center in Springfield.

The Buckeye State is home to more than 560 aviation and aerospace companies that combined employ 38,000 workers. It has the third largest manufacturing workforce in the U.S. and is a top supplier for leading airplane manufacturers, including Airbus and Boeing. Combined with state and federal employees, this sector employs over 110,000 people in Ohio.

Out of This World
The Ohio State University is part of the founding leadership team of the George Washington Carver Science Park established in 2021 by Voyager Space and Nanoracks. OSU will host the terrestrial lab, which will replicate a space station science park aboard Starlab, a commercial, low-Earth orbit space station Voyager Space and Nanoracks are building.

Other entities on the leadership team include NASA research partner the Universities Space Research Association, based in Cleveland; ZIN Technologies in Middleburg Heights, a contractor to NASA, the Department of Defense and private industry; and the International Association of Science Parks and Areas of Innovation, based in Málaga, Spain.

“We have only just begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities and opportunities that await us in the ‘final frontier,’ and our ability to maximize future exploration hinges on collaboration between scientists and industry experts,” said Ohio State President Kristina M. Johnson in a September 2022 Ohio State News bulletin announcing OSU’s role. “Locating the terrestrial lab of the George Washington Carver Science Park at Ohio State will be the best possible way to facilitate this joint effort and ensure we are sharing resources, research and knowledge across multiple disciplines.”

eVTOLJoby’s Dayton operations are expected to produce up to 500 eVTOLs annually.
Photo Courtesy of Joby Aviation

Dayton Still Delivers
Joby Aviation announced in September 2023 that it will build its air taxis — technically, electric vertical take-off and landing (eVTOL) aircraft — at Dayton International Airport, where it acquired a building for its first scaled aircraft manufacturing operations in March.

The California-based company plans to construct a facility on a 140-acre site where about 2,000 employees will produce up to 500 eVTOLs annually. It’s scheduled to be completed in 2025.

“We’re building the future of aviation right where it all started, in Dayton, Ohio,” said JoeBen Bevirt, founder and CEO of Joby Aviation, in a release announcing the Dayton location. “The Wright brothers harnessed revolutionary technology of their time to open up the skies, and we intend to do the same — this time, bringing quiet and emissions-free flight that we hope will have an equally profound impact on our world.”

Joby Aviation’s air taxis will transport four passengers up to 100 miles. The company says it plans to operate these aircraft as part of aerial ridesharing networks in cities and communities around the world, starting in 2025. Joby Aviation will invest about $500 million as it scales up operations.

Dayton International Airport is becoming much more than a passenger and air freight facility. In addition to Joby Aviation’s project, Sierra Nevada Corporation in 2023 opened the SNC Aviation Innovation and Technology Center, a 100,000-sq.-ft. large aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility there, which is the first of two to be built. The complex will support about 150 jobs.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted at the opening of the facility: “Choosing Dayton to build this large-scale aviation center is proof that SNC recognizes Ohio as having the infrastructure, workforce and expertise to support the aviation sector at the highest levels.”

Mark Arend
Editor Emeritus of Site Selection magazine

Mark Arend

Mark Arend is editor emeritus of Site Selection, and previously served as editor in chief from 2001 to 2023. Prior to joining the editorial staff in 1997, he worked for 10 years in New York City at Wall Street Computer Review, ABA Banking Journal and Global Investment Technology. Mark graduated from the University of Hartford (Conn.) in 1985 and lives near Atlanta, Georgia.


Ohio's competitive business climate, location, workforce and quality of life make the Buckeye State the right place for business.

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