Why Companies are Building Second HQs in Ohio
There are many offerings luring business to the Buckeye State
As Ohio goes, so goes the nation. Up until 2020, that adage accurately described the state as a bellwether for presidential elections. But it’s also an apt depiction of Ohio as a microcosm of 21st-century America. With three major metropolitan areas—and a handful of smaller ones—each with distinct socio-economic characteristics, Ohio’s diversity is hard to match. And after suffering a brutal year due to the pandemic, Ohio has helped spur the nation’s economic rebound, becoming one of the leading states in terms of recovery. The unemployment rate is below the national average, and the state added more than 28,000 new jobs in December 2020.
A large part of this growth is attributable to companies looking to relocate or add a second headquarters. Coastal overcrowding—with the attendant skyrocketing prices for housing—coupled with Ohio’s lower overall cost of living makes the Buckeye State an attractive spot for relocation. According to a 2020 survey by Lending Tree, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Columbus are three of the top 25 real estate markets for millennials. Throw in a diverse economy fueled by healthcare (Cleveland), finance and insurance (Columbus) and consumer goods (Cincinnati, home to Kroger and Proctor & Gamble), it becomes clear why Ohio is fertile ground for a post-pandemic economic boom.
The fintech company Upstart uses artificial intelligence to assist partner banks with consumer loans, applying AI-generated data to approve a larger percentage of applications than loans employing traditional criteria. As the company started rolling out new offerings (such as car loans) and scaling the platform, it needed a second hub to supplement its Silicon Valley headquarters in San Mateo. The main requirement: a wealth of tech-savvy workers. The company considered Austin, Nashville and Chicago, but Columbus proved to be the most attractive. "We wrote a bit of code for a LinkedIn script to find out how many software engineers were in each city," said Grant Schneider, who heads Upstart’s Columbus office.
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