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 Six for Success

There are six traits of cities that successfully attract and support businesses. Cincinnati shines across all six.

In 2021, REDI Cincinnati identified six common characteristics cities had in common that indicated a thriving ecosystem for businesses. Our organization was uniquely positioned to do this important task, as REDI Cincinnati had by that point helped facilitate more than $6.2 billion in capital investment for our region. As tireless advocates for the Cincinnati Metropolitan area, we of course sought to showcase our region’s strengths, but more so we sought to prove that Cincinnati is the right choice for businesses looking to grow their presence via expansion into a new area, a move that requires careful calculation and considered choices.

In short, these six characteristics, published in the Cincinnati Business Courier, identified shared traits of cities where businesses not only prospered but found community integration and positive brand growth. At the time of original publication, our global economy and the local business climate were struggling with the effects of the Covid pandemic, but Cincinnati remained a strong choice for business expansion, ranking highly for all six of these key traits.

Almost three years later, the Cincinnati business ecosystem has not only survived the pandemic’s unprecedented challenges but showcased stellar growth, cementing our region as a clear choice for startup businesses, new locations and in-region expansion. In illustrating growth across all six of these characteristics, Cincinnati has proven to have all six attributes and REDI Cincinnati has demonstrated strength as a regional leader.

As we start a new year, we’ve decided to revisit the list of six characteristics. Cincinnati deserves a victory lap for our region’s resiliency and now seems like a great time to showcase the region’s growth since 2021 as Cincinnati emerges as an economic powerhouse.

  1. Available Real Estate and Office Space

Logistically speaking, Cincinnati has geography on its side. Our city is within an eight-hour drive of 60% of the U.S. population and a 90-minute flight from 66% of all major U.S. markets. Why businesses seek a presence in our region is obvious, as the Queen City is primely situated for economic success across a wide variety of sectors. But available space? Well, we’ve got that, too. Whether a business seeks storefront space, prime offices that fit corporate culture, a location in an innovation corridor for collaborative interaction, available acreage or various combinations of all of these, Cincinnati has the right physical location for a wide range of businesses.

And finding that space is as easy as checking out REDI Cincinnati’s site locator or, better yet, calling one of our economic development experts, who are eager to help businesses find the perfect spot in Cincinnati.

Extending beyond real estate and available office space, our region’s investment in corporate facilities, job growth and infrastructure is one of the reasons Site Selection magazine ranked Cincinnati the number five Top Metropolitan City in the U.S. in its 2023 Global Groundwork Index.

  1. A Talented Population

A great business idea is only as great as the workforce that executes it, and available talent is a critical key to any business’s success. Workforce talent truly is the backbone of economic viability, and in the various factors that comprise local talent, Cincinnati shines now more than ever. Local places of learning such as the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati State, Northern Kentucky University and Butler Tech produce highly educated and skilled graduates, while organizations such as Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber, 1819 Innovation Hub, comSpark, Tech Elevator and more work to train and retain our region’s future talent.

Beyond producing a capable local employment pool, today’s Cincinnati thrives in attracting standout talent for a skilled, diverse and passionate workforce, with 2019 data reporting our region gained 29 college-educated migrants for every 10,000 existing residents. With LinkedIn naming Cincinnati the fourth best city to start a career in 2020, it’s no wonder our region boasts such talent strength. And with strong STEM training across our population (regional STEM degree attainment rose more than 70 percent between 2014 and 2019) Cincinnati’s workforce is ready and eager for the future of business in our region.

  1. A Diverse Economy

The old days of steel, coal and auto towns, where one industry drives the vast majority of a city’s economic activity, are by and large vestiges of the past. (Silicon Valley’s dependence on tech is one of a handful of outliers.) And the above examples show why diversity in an economy is better, because when all of a city’s eggs are in one financial basket … that basket isn’t typically built to survive. Cincinnati’s economic growth, however, has been marked by incredible variety.

Sure, we’ve got the lock on commercial soap products a la P&G, but in the Queen City you’ll also find economic activity in such sectors as sustainable packaging, life sciences, cybersecurity, chemical manufacturing, fintech, food and flavoring, EVs and much more. And with a host of active innovation corridors–including the Cincinnati Innovation District®️–and startup incubators, the vibrancy of Cincinnati’s economic diversity grows stronger every year. The result is a strong economy, with various job opportunities, spending options and cultural representations—the right climate for retaining and attracting a population to fuel success today and into the future.

  1. Global Connectedness and Proximity

While we certainly want a strong local economy that meets a high percentage of in-region demand, there’s no denying that ours is a global economy, and connectedness is key to any city’s success. Cincinnati has long benefited from the logistical advantages offered by the Ohio and Licking rivers, rail operations and drivability to much of the nation; and the presence of CVG International Airport allows Cincinnati citizens and businesses alike to reach every corner of the globe from right across the river in Hebron, Kentucky. The 7th largest cargo airport in North America and home to Amazon Air’s primary U.S. Hub and DHL Express’ Global Superhub for the Americas, CVG connects our region to goods across the globe, managed by a strong logistics sector right here in our region. And, with the addition of a nonstop flight to London in June of 2023, Cincinnati has direct access to two major airports in Europe, as the trip to London joins a pre-existing Paris flight originating from CVG.

And in a globally connected world, regions that succeed are places that welcome every global citizen, regardless of race, religion, lifestyle and cultural differentiators. Cincinnati shines bright in this aspect, too, with Niche ranking our region among the top 88 percent of most diverse cities in America in 2022. Cincinnati can reach across the globe, but this Midwestern city is an eager home to everyone.

  1. Favorable Financing

It takes money to make money—at least when it comes to starting a business or expanding into a new city. Securing funding for a great idea can make or break a business, and local investors are often the most … well, invested in developing business opportunities that strengthen the local economy. Here in Cincinnati, we’re home to numerous organizations that connect entrepreneurs with venture capital funding, including Cintrifuse, Queen City Angels, and more.

Furthermore, it’s important to be good stewards of these investment funds, which is why cities that tend to succeed for businesses offer tax incentives and various other programs to help cut startup and operating costs. We here at REDI Cincinnati work hard to be an invaluable resource, serving as a credible convener in making the right connections throughout the region to support exploration of both financing and tax incentives, so we’re proud to say Cincinnati has very favorable ecosystem to support businesses—give us a call and we’ll tell you more!

  1. A Low Cost of Living

Finally, a city’s strength is dependent on affordability for its citizens, as a local economy only thrives when people can afford to comfortably live, shop, dine, play and otherwise live within its borders. A low cost of living encourages a talented workforce to populate a region and activate great business ideas. And, once again, Cincinnati shines in this area, with a reputation for affordability that coastal cities can only dream of.

And this low cost of living isn’t just anecdotal. In our comparative study of economic vibrancy amongst 40 regional economies, Cincinnati ranked among the top 25 percent for affordability of a single-family home as of 2021. Though our region hasn’t been immune to recent challenges affecting the entire nation, our region’s affordability makes weathering economic disruption a much easier prospect—which is a big reason why US News & World Report ranks Cincinnati as the “Best Place to Live in Ohio.”