Special Investment Report: Ohio
The Great Seal of the state of Ohio depicts a rising sun over Mount Logan in southern Ohio’s Ross County — a new day. Ohio Secretary of State William Creighton, Jr. first sketched the scene in 1803 as this territory west of the Alleghenies turned into the country's 17th state. The symbolism is as apt today as it was then, as the nation’s eighth-largest economy aligns itself to the demands of the 21st century.
Sixty percent of the U.S. and Canadian population lies within a day’s drive, making Ohio an ideal location for manufacturing — machinery, automobiles, plastics, appliances, and steel, among others. It has been that heavy reliance on manufacturing that is both Ohio’s strength and, at times, its Achilles heel. Because of Ohio’s manufacturing concentration, “We are known as a pro-cyclical state,” explains Dr. Richard Vedder, an Ohio University economist specializing in U.S. economic history. “In periods of upswing, Ohio is, historically, prone to move a little faster than the national average.” On the other hand, “when we have a recession, we’re really clobbered.”
Dave Claborn , Director of Development and Community Relations, Ohio State University, Marion (Q3 / Summer 2013)
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Cleveland, once known mostly as a steel town, is becoming much more diverse. A major catalyst for that is the Cleveland Clinic — Ohio’s second-largest employer (behind Wal-Mart).
Richard Vedder, the Ohio University economist, is well aware of the influence of the world-class medical institution. “We all know about the growth of the healthcare industry,” explains Vedder. “That’s something of a national phenomenon, though Ohio has done better than the average state in that. The Cleveland Clinic is rated by U.S. News and World Report as the best medical place in the United States for [its heart program]. You know, when the king of Saudi Arabia needs an operation, he stops in Cleveland. He doesn’t go to New York or London — he goes to Cleveland.”
Not surprisingly, the Global Center for Health Innovation is located next to Cleveland’s Convention Center, showcasing the latest in healthcare technology, education, and commerce.
South on I-71, biomedical innovation is happening in Columbus as well, particularly in and around Ohio State’s construction of a billion-dollar addition to its medical center.
Ohio conducts 17 percent of all U.S. clinical trials, ranking the state first in the Midwest and seventh nationally. One of those trials is generating lots of excitement at Ohio State: thus far, 900 leukemia patients have been tested at Ohio State’s Comprehensive Cancer Center with the drug Ibrutinib. So far, says the center’s Dr. John Byrd, every patient tested has seen his/her leukemia go into remission. “It causes the cells to regress and stop growing,” he notes. The FDA is fast-tracking Ibrutinib for approval based in part on the OSU trials.
Ohio’s Third Frontier innovation funding is also a major catalyst to biomedical research and commercialization. At the University of Cincinnati (UC), for example, $5.9 million from Ohio’s Third Frontier Wright Projects Program has established the Ohio Center for Microfluidic Innovation. Microfluidics involve the manipulation of tiny amounts of fluids inside polymer-microchips. Applications include biosensors and medical devices.
UC is also home to an Ohio Center of Excellence in Nanoscale Sensor Technology. UC microfluidics and nanoscale research has led to dramatic breakthroughs in the speed and sensitivity of immunoassay diagnostics. Cincinnati-based Siloam Biosciences is commercializing the UC research through a “lab-on-a-chip based Point-of-Care test platform” that it expects will revolutionize bedside diagnostic abilities.
Polymers and Chemicals
In 1870, when the city fathers of Akron enticed Benjamin Franklin Goodrich to bring his rubber company to their town, the die was cast for Ohio to become a leader in the rubber, polymer, and chemical industries. While tire-making has moved to other locales, its legacy is seen in the 1,300 polymer and chemical firms calling Ohio home and the nearly 90,000 people who work in them.
The industry is supported by robust research. The University of Akron’s College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering is globally known and ranked among the United States’ top five graduate programs in the field. Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio State’s Center for Advanced Polymer and Composite Engineering, Bowling Green State University’s Center for Photochemical Sciences, and Kent State’s Liquid Crystal Institute are among the research centers developing the next generation of advanced materials.
In reality, it is a small city, perched on the northern edge of Columbus in southern Delaware County. If it had a name, it might be Chaseville. It is 10,000 people who converge daily to form JPMorgan Chase’s back office operations center in what is known as Polaris — a highly successful mixed-use shopping, restaurant, housing, and office complex.
Statewide, Chase employs 23,000 — it’s Ohio’s third-largest private-sector employer. The financial services sector is one of Ohio’s largest, employing 173,000 people and adding $34 billion to Ohio’s gross state product. The 230 banks, 350 credit unions, and 250 insurance companies in Ohio make the state one of the most concentrated centers for insurance and financial services in the nation.