2020: Good News Despite the Bad

Four Ohio business organizations eye rebound

By Terry Troy

While the COVID pandemic has sapped local economies and put people out of work, the news out of four regions in Ohio was not all bad. Indeed, if the news coming out of Cincinnati, Dayton, Cleveland and Youngstown continues, the economy could recover strongly in 2021.

For the 18th year in a row, the Cincinnati region has been named to Site Selection Magazine’s Governor’s Cup rankings, which measures the number of new and expanded corporate facilities per capita in each state and region.

“The Cincinnati region continues to be a leader in the country for economic development, which is helping to power the region’s strong recovery from the pandemic,” said Kimm Lauterbach, REDI Cincinnati president and CEO. “This recognition is more proof of the success from the REDI Cincinnati team and our partners across Southwest Ohio, Northern Kentucky, and Southeast Indiana.”

Kimm Lauterbach, REDI Cincinnati president

This year, the Cincinnati region was ranked ninth in the country among major U.S. metros and seventh on a per capita basis. Additionally, Ohio maintained its second spot in the overall rankings and first on a per capita basis. Indiana and Kentucky also ranked in the Top 10 for total projects at number six and seven, respectively.

According to the magazine, Toledo tied for number one in the rankings for metro areas with populations between 200,000 and one million. Findlay was once again tops in cities of 10,000 to 50,000 folks. Up north in the Greater Cleveland area, Team NEO released its annual performance and impact report, sharing that the organization worked in partnership with JobsOhio and the Northeast Ohio Economic Development Network on 84 different projects that will generate more than 8,500 jobs, $449.1 million in annual payroll and $3.35 billion in capital investment for the region. The network also focused on offsetting pandemic-related job losses by working with organizations that chose the Northeast Ohio Region for their expansion. These efforts resulted in the retention of almost 11,500 jobs.

According to Bill Koehler, CEO of Team NEO, the successes of 2020 demonstrate significant opportunity for the Northeast Ohio Region to build and sustain a vibrant regional economy as it recovers from the pandemic’s effects.

“Thanks to our partners across the 18 counties of Northeast Ohio for engaging with us and strengthening our ability as a region to address the opportunities and challenges that lay ahead,” said Koehler. “Together, we will make the Northeast Ohio Region more talented, equitable, competitive, innovative, resilient and prosperous.”

Bill Koehler

To the east in the Mahoning Valley, the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber recently reported that private companies invested more than $2.9 billion in the Mahoning Valley last year in its 2020 Economic Development Report Card. According to the report card, a total of 78 projects resulted in $2,956,016,640 invested, 4,191 new jobs and 1,965 retained jobs. In comparison, in 2019, 66 company projects resulted in $284,254,524 of investment, 1,851 new jobs and 2,809 retained jobs.

Sarah Boyarko, COO at the Regional Chamber, said, “The report card is used to inform our community about the diverse economic growth throughout the two-county area. The participating entities work collectively to support businesses to help make these investments a reality, and the report card and information provided are always well received.”

The Chamber, in partnership with 15 other agencies, gathers data on economic development investment in the Valley annually. The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce’s business advocacy team plans to tackle timely issues that affect the region’s business community in 2021-22.

As the Dayton region’s largest business association, the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce has two registered lobbyists on staff and represents the voice of the Dayton business community locally, in Columbus, and on a federal level. Biennially, the chamber advocacy team releases its Legislative Agenda, which details anticipated issues in the next two years, and the chamber’s public policy priorities.

“It’s important that our business community has a voice in policy decisions. We anticipate a number of key issues to come before our elected officials in 2021 and 2022, and we’ll represent our member businesses in advocating for business-friendly legislation,” said Stephanie Keinath, vice president of strategic initiatives. “With ongoing input from our members & volunteers, we identify policy positions based on our mission to create a better place for businesses to grow and prosper.”

Some of the opportunities for advocacy this year stem from the COVID-19 pandemic, including pushing for additional support for small businesses and equitable expansion of broadband access. The chamber’s Legislative & Regulatory Affairs Committee, made up of chamber member volunteers, works alongside chamber staff to identify priority issues throughout the year. The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce is the lead advocacy group in the Dayton region that represents the business community.

Dayton restaurants are seeing a rebirth since the curfew in Ohio has been lifted, as seen in the attached video.