From Ohio Business Growth Guide 2024

Laying the Foundation for High-Flying Growth

Premium sites and upgraded infrastructure deliver improved access for growing firms.

JobsOhio has helped fund more than 20 Breeze Airways flights from the Akron-Canton, Columbus and Cincinnati airports.
Image courtesy of Breeze Airways

by Adam Bruns

ne of the keys to Ohio being ranked No. 1 in Site Selection magazine’s 2023 Global Groundwork Index may be leaving the ground itself behind.

That annual ranking evaluates corporate facility investment project numbers and public infrastructure project investment numbers to see which regions of the United States are performing well in those two complementary areas and therefore laying the groundwork for prosperity. Ohio’s reputation for logistics connectivity is well known: It sits, after all, within a day’s drive of 60% of the North American population. But JobsOhio’s domestic and international air service restoration and expansion efforts are doing their part too.

Aer Lingus employeesAer Lingus employees celebrate the airline’s new route between Dublin and Cleveland in May 2023.
Photo courtesy of Aer Lingus

Strong evidence occurred in June 2023 when British Airways’ inaugural flight from London Heathrow Airport to Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport (CVG) touched down. The service is offered five times a week during summer flying season and four times a week the rest of the year.

“When we look at the Cincinnati region, we see a vibrant part of the U.S. with a great mix of business and leisure travelers who have long asked for more international service and global connectivity, which is what made it so attractive to us and why we’re confident this new route will be a success,” said Neil Chernoff, director of networks and alliances at British Airways.

British Airways’ inaugural flightBritish Airways’ inaugural flight from London Heathrow Airport arrived at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport in June 2023.
Photo courtesy of PRNewsfoto/British Airways

The launch of that flight is making the Cincinnati region more vibrant already. When payment processing company Worldpay in December 2023 announced the return of its global corporate headquarters to Cincinnati, the retention of over 900 current jobs and the creation of more than 500 new jobs, Charles Drucker, incoming CEO, said, “Access to talent, quality of life, great educational institutions and the new direct flight from CVG Airport to London significantly contributed to the decision to make our corporate headquarters in Greater Cincinnati, connecting us to our customers worldwide.” London will now serve as the company’s international headquarters as Worldpay begins operating as an independent company.

The same thing is happening in the opposite corner of the state, where Aer Lingus began regular service between Dublin, Ireland, and Cleveland in May 2023, connecting Ohio business leaders and leisure travelers to the fifth largest hub airport in the entire North America – Europe marketplace. The two international flights alone are estimated to contribute a combined $75 million in annual economic impact. Domestically, Alaska Airlines recently launched a flight from Cleveland to Seattle, and JobsOhio has helped fund more than 20 Breeze Airways flights from the Akron-Canton, Columbus and Cincinnati airports.

Strategic moves like those are exactly why JobsOhio threw its support behind an Air Service Restoration Program in 2020, setting aside $10 million annually in order to provide short-term revenue guarantee incentives to airlines. “Simply put, if we want to land new company operations in Ohio, we need to land new passenger flight routes here as well,” the organization says.

SiteOhio Also Takes Flight
The world knows Ohio landed a $28 billion commitment by Intel to build two new chip fabs in New Albany in Licking County. To land the next big investment, the state needs to invest in big land.

The state’s budget for 2024/2025 includes $750 million for the new All Ohio Future Fund, which prepares locations to be ready for large strategic economic development projects; $350 million investment in brownfield remediation to revitalize and prepare sites for future economic development opportunities; $124 million for water infrastructure modernization for townships, villages, and cities; $150 million for the Ohio Building and Demolition and Site Revitalization Program; and $30 million for the Rural Industrial Park Loan Program.

The state’s SiteOhio program continues to build its portfolio of sites, totaling 23 at year end and certain to increase soon. “Authentic” was chosen as the 2023 Word of the Year by Merriam-Webster. So it’s appropriate that Ohio’s SiteOhio database only contains authenticated sites and properties.


Some sites were sold before we even got them certified. No other state in the country has seen the kind of return on investment that JobsOhio has.
— Tonya Crist, Owner, InSite Consulting Group, on the SiteOhio program


Tonya CristTonya Crist, owner of InSite Consulting Group, has been directly involved in authenticating SiteOhio sites since the launch of the program in 2015. What impressed her was JobsOhio’s hunger for doing things the right way, with no political agenda and a wide-open invitation for communities across the state’s 88 counties to have the opportunity to be vetted for readiness.

“JobsOhio already was seen as a very flexible organization moving at the speed of business,” she told me earlier this year. “They just didn’t have the product ready to match their culture.”

Today they do, to the tune of more than $13 billion invested and 22,000 jobs created so far. What stood out to Crist was the number of rural communities hungry for investment and ready to bring their execution up to speed with InSite’s coaching and guidance, whether the parcel was 50 acres or 1,000. In one community, there was a need for $2 million worth of water infrastructure. “Next thing you know, they got the water there and people located there,” she says.

Not only have the wins increased, the leads have too, bringing consistent visibility to communities that weren’t being seen before for the authentic places they were. “One region that saw one prospect in a year saw over 90,” Crist says. Meanwhile, “the talent side of JobsOhio supports the site side,” she says. “We’re not just myopically looking at the dirt. In our decision-making model we’re also assessing the labor pool, and how it corresponds to the types of companies that might locate on the site.”

The pace has been such that, Crist says, “some sites were sold before we even got them certified. No other state in the country has seen the kind of return on investment that JobsOhio has.”

Adam Bruns
Editor in Chief of Site Selection magazine

Adam Bruns

Adam Bruns is editor in chief and head of publications for Site Selection, and before that has served as managing editor beginning in February 2002. In the course of reporting hundreds of stories for Site Selection, Adam has visited companies and communities around the globe. A St. Louis native who grew up in the Kansas City suburbs, Adam is a 1986 alumnus of Knox College, and resided in Chicago; Midcoast Maine; Savannah, Georgia; and Lexington, Kentucky, before settling in the Greater Atlanta community of Peachtree Corners, where he lives with his wife and daughter.


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

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