Nov 2, 2021 - Business
Ohio trails most states in "entrepreneurial capacity"
Data: Heartland Forward; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

If Ohio wants to boast about its business-friendly climate, it has a lot of work to do.

Driving the news: A new report from Heartland Forward finds that Ohio trails most other states in a study of "entrepreneurial capacity."

  • The Arkansas think tank study ranked us 40th.

Why it matters: A healthy entrepreneurial ecosystem is key to creating jobs and elevating standards of living, with Columbus faring better on this front than the rest of Ohio.

Go deeper: Researchers focused on data involving new companies along with business access to investment capital and government grants.

  • Just 8% of Ohioans work at a "young firm," or a company founded within the past five years — a low figure indicating the state could do more to foster startup innovation.
  • The state is middle of the pack in terms of business research development spending when considering our large population.
  • Ohio also ranks among the lower third of states in higher education, with 29% of residents holding at least a bachelor's degree.

Yes, but: Columbus bucks the statewide trend, with hundreds of millions of dollars in startup funding invested here in just Q3 2021.

  • Nearly 37% of local adults have at least a bachelor's degree, per the latest U.S. Census data.
  • Our area also boasts five companies on the latest Fortune 500 list.

The big picture: Heartland Forward focuses on improving economic performance in a 20-state "heartland" region in the center of America.

  • 16 of the lowest 20 positions on the "entrepreneurial capacity" index are heartland states.

The intrigue: Ohio is trying to entice coastal residents and businesses to relocate here, with millions of dollars spent on billboards in cities like Boston, New York and San Francisco.

What to watch: Researchers at Heartland Forward tell our Axios NW Arkansas colleagues they plan to publish a similar entrepreneurial index at a city-by-city level in early 2022.

  • We'll see how Columbus ranks then.
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