Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

In the battle for talent and economic growth, U.S. cities are often competing with each other to become the next tech hubs and lure new investment and jobs. In Ohio, however, venture capital investors in three cities are taking a different approach by working together to boost the state's startup appeal.

Why it matters: The midwest is hardly a hotbed for venture capital activity, the majority of which goes to New York, Massachusetts and California. But legacy rustbelt states see a chance to attract entrepreneurs looking for alternatives to pricey cities like San Francisco.

Driving the news: The Ohio Third Frontier Commission, a statewide economic development initiative, recently approved about $77 million to support tech startups throughout the state. It's invested more than $2 billion since 2003.

  • A sizable portion of the latest round of funds went to three of the state's venture development funds: CincyTech in Cincinnati, JumpStart in Cleveland and Rev1 Ventures in Columbus.

What's happening: After years of population decline, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Columbus are seeing growth again. Local business leaders there have been focused on using their legacy industries to their advantage and collaborating on deals, advising each other on portfolio companies and exchanging tips for attracting executives from the coasts.

Columbus is one of the fastest-growing cities in the midwest. It's the state capital and home of Ohio State University and major corporations like Nationwide Insurance, Cardinal Health and Big Lots.

  • Tom Walker, CEO of Rev1 Ventures, created a 70,000-square-foot startup studio in an old mattress warehouse. As it's grown, he said he's now able to attract more co-investors from the west coast and it's gotten easier to bring senior executive talent from other regions.
  • Investing in entrepreneurs who are women and people of color is a priority for the three firms. About 50% of Rev1 Ventures' portfolio has diverse founders and leadership teams.
  • "The best way to win the talent war is to provide the best opportunities for the most diverse population," Walker said.

Cincinnati's legacy industrial economy has been somewhat challenging to revamp, said Mike Venerable, CEO of CincyTech, a seed fund focused on life sciences and digital startups. Technologies spinning out of Cincinnati Children's Hospital and local universities have been central to the strategy.

  • Venerable expects e-commerce and logistics to grow thanks to the new Amazon hub landing in nearby Kentucky.
  • Several of CincyTech's investments have been acquired by out-of-state companies.
  • "Buyers are finding really good talent here and there's a lifestyle arbitrage factor that goes into it," he said. "It's much easier to hire and grow here and employees tend to be more loyal. Maybe they're not moving their headquarters here, but it's easier to scale it here."

Cleveland has leaned into its health care and medicine expertise since the bottom fell out of manufacturing jobs, said Ray Leach, CEO of JumpStart Inc., a Cleveland-based nonprofit venture development organization.

  • JumpStart saw significant exits from investments about four years ago, and now the goal is to have two to five exits across Ohio every year.
  • Cleveland and the surrounding seven cities in northeast Ohio account for 40% of the state's population. "But the culture of Cleveland was not oriented toward entrepreneurs," he said. "It's taken 10 to 20 years to get that flywheel going."

The big picture: The public-private collaboration and cross-city relationships is what has made the difference for Ohio, the investors say.

  • Leach, Walker and Venerable meet frequently and have a running text-message chain to compare notes.
  • The state's investment, Venerable said, has let each city "spin up what made sense for it" allowing each to develop a distinct entrepreneurial ecosystem without directly competing for resources.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

DOJ pressed to enforce Al Jazeera foreign agent ruling

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The Justice Department is being pressed to enforce its own demand that the U.S. arm of Qatari broadcaster Al Jazeera register as a foreign agent.

Why it matters: The launch of Al Jazeera's new right-of-center U.S. media venture, Rightly, has refocused attention on the media company's alleged links to Doha, and DOJ's efforts to crack down on media outlets viewed as foreign interest mouthpieces.

Poll: Immigration is America's most-polarizing issue

Data: The American Aspirations Index/Populace; Chart: Will Chase/Axios

Immigration was found to be the most polarizing issue in America based on new polling from Populace.

Why it matters: Americans have surprisingly similar priorities for the U.S., but immigration stands out as one of the few issues with clear partisan differences. It underscores the challenge for advocates and lawmakers hoping to pass immigration reform in the coming weeks amid narrow margins in Congress.

2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Lawmakers hide behind AG's investigation as Cuomo lingers

A billboard outside Albany, N.Y. Photo: Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is politically wounded but not yet dead, several state lawmakers tell Axios.

The state of play: Most are holding their fire and punting to state Attorney General Letitia James' investigation into sexual harassment allegations. They expect the inquiry to be credible and thorough — and buy Cuomo badly needed breathing room.