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Top 10 Industries Driving Growth in Ohio

Welcome to Ohio sign.

Over the past two centuries, the way in which Ohio impacted the U.S. economy has evolved. Starting from as early as the 18th century, the driving industries in the state were farming and agriculture. During the transition of agriculture to more industrial jobs in the 19th century, Ohio was most prosperous in manufacturing and construction.

Fast-forward to 2018, where the construction industry remains consistently successful today. The service-oriented industries such as retail, entertainment, and culinary arts have also grown. Specific cities including Cincinnati, Columbus, and Cleveland are currently experiencing a booming economy. Ohio ranks #1 for affordability in housing and other costs of living, one of many factors that attribute to the state’s growth.  

So what is driving this kind of state growth? A common theme found in our research is the high ratio of job seekers to jobs available, leading to a rising number of businesses formed. Swyft Filings also provided in-depth research based on proprietary data to determine which industries encourage positive activity for the Ohio economy, and other reasons why.

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1) Construction

Strong construction projects include highways, energy pipelines, manufacturing buildings, and railways. Cincinnati, followed by Cleveland, has seen the largest volume of new construction businesses in 2018 so far. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the total number of people employed in Ohio’s construction industry raised from 5,200,000 to 5,500,000 over 8 years. Recent reports project that global construction output will increase by 3.6% per year for the next 5 years. Also as a result of increased building construction, nonbuilding electric and gas utilities have also seen improvement. An example of this effect is Ohio’s electric utility and gas plant segment growth in August, upwards of 44%.

2) Retail

Because of the growing competition with e-commerce and collapse of large brands like Toys-R-Us and Sears, the retail market is forced to evolve. Columbus, Ohio serves as a hub for experimentation for brick-and-mortar companies because of its diverse demographic, favorable geography, and reputation as one of the top metropolitan areas in the United States. Reaching over 65,000 Ohio State University students and thousands of young metropolitan shoppers, business owners have seen positive outcomes for their innovative thinking.

3) Real Estate

Columbus is ranked as the fourth fastest-growing city in the U.S. As a result, there is more demand than there is a supply of housing. According to our report, Cincinnati, followed by Columbus, has seen the largest volume of new real estate businesses in 2018 so far. Ohio is also known as a valuable location for turnkey real estate investment, or purchasing property and immediately leasing, because of its promising rent-to-value ratio, generous legal climate, and low cost-to-enter—all stemmed from the growth of the state.

4) Transportation

Ohio’s transportation infrastructure consists of 12 major airports, over 5,000 miles of freight railroad, 123,000 miles of public road, and 9 major water ports. This vast availability for transportation creates opportunities for new companies, which leads to a higher demand for employees. With the holidays approaching, companies such as FedEx and UPS are beginning to hire seasonal positions such as package handlers, delivery drivers, and truck drivers for their sites in Columbus, Ohio.

5) Entertainment

Cleveland, followed by Dayton, has seen the largest volume of new entertainment businesses in 2018 so far, bringing more than 100 projects to the city and created almost 3,000 jobs over the past ten years. Serving as a base for films such as “Avengers”, “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, and “Spiderman 3”, the film and television industry brought more than $500 million to the local economy ($80 million came from the Marvel franchise while they were on location).

6 & 7) Consulting and Health Care (tied)

According to Swyft Filings data, Cincinnati has seen the largest volume of new consulting businesses in 2018 so far. Ohio’s consulting industry has the 5th fastest job growth, with 37.3% projected growth between 2012-2022. One reason for this growth is due to the aging population, and the generation’s affinity to individual and small group practices.

Tied with the consulting industry, Cincinnati has also seen the largest volume of new healthcare businesses in 2018. Ohio’s home health care services has the 2nd fastest job growth, with a projected 44.5% projected growth between 2012-2022. Other ambulatory health care services and outpatient care centers also populate this list of top 10 Ohio industry groups with the fastest job growth. Overall, the health care and social assistance companies take up 43% of the total small business employment share, another piece of evidence that small businesses are favored in the state.

8) Professional Services

Professional services consist of occupations that require a license or certificate. Examples of these jobs include architects, lawyers, and financial advisors. According to Jacob Duritsky, vice president of strategy and research at TeamNeo, growth in Northeast Ohio is driven by a surge in professional services and headquarters, as well as manufacturing. Specifically, Wheeling, WV-OH benefitted from the 2017 GDP growth in insurance, finance, and rental industries, ranking #3 in percent change over the past 5 years.

9) Food Service

Ohio’s restaurant and food service jobs in Ohio equals 10% of the total employment in the state, which is equivalent to almost 584,000 jobs. However, not all success is restaurant-related—hundreds of companies play a role in producing foods and beverages shared across the country and around the world. Ohio ranks nationally as a top five producer for food and beverages because of its manufacturing workforce and close access to the agribusiness and agricultural sectors of the state.

10) Social Assistance

Social assistance encompasses individual and family, community relief, rehabilitation, disability, and child day care services. Along with healthcare, social assistance is the fastest-growing industry. By 2022, this segment is expected to lead in state growth, adding more than 166,000 jobs. As the state continues to grow, retirement and birth statistics follow suit, creating a higher demand for social assistance businesses

Methodology analyzed new business formations in Ohio between January 1, 2018 and September 25, 2018 to determine which industries saw the largest volume of new businesses in the state.

Originally published on October 26, 2022, and last edited on April 17, 2023.

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