A Region Has Risen for Columbus Ohio Businesses

The diversity and scale of Columbus, Ohio’s businesses during recent years rivals that of any location in North America.

By Matt McQuade / October 3, 2022

Aeriel view of Intel’s expanded headquarters in the Columbus Region

It’s not on the coasts and its name isn’t synonymous with an entire industry (here’s looking at you Silicon Valley and Wall Street). But that hasn’t mattered much as the Columbus Region has piled on major investment after major investment in recent years. A rendering shows early plans for two new leading-edge Intel processor factories in Licking County, Ohio.

Announced on Jan. 21, 2022, the $20 billion project spans nearly 1,000 acres and is the largest single private-sector investment in Ohio history. Construction began in late 2022 and production might come online as soon as 2025.

The Ohio metropolitan area used to simply lead the Midwest in GDP, population and job growth, an impressive feat on its own. But the sheer diversity and scale of Columbus, Ohio’s businesses expanding during recent years rivals that of any location in North America, and there’s still plenty more yet to come.

Side view of Amgen building.

A Big Domino Falls in the Life Sciences

One of the most recent eye-openers has taken this “emerging” Midwest hub for life sciences and made it a bonafide national contender. Amgen’s $365 million assembly and packaging facility will create 400 new jobs – many of which will be filled by STEM talent from Ohio State University – when it opens in 2024. The investment will greatly enhance both the production and distribution capabilities of the region for the biopharmaceutical industry.

Along with the growth of Forge Biologics and Andelyn Biosciences, two startup contract manufacturing companies building 175,000 square-foot or larger facilities nearby, the production capacity of the region will explode within two years.

But it’s not just production and distribution—Columbus also welcomed a major gene therapy player in 2021. Sarepta Therapeutics invested more than $30 million in an 85,000-square-foot R&D facility following its acquisition of a local startup. Dubbed the Genetic Therapies Center of Excellence (GTCOE), Sarepta will continue its discovery, pre-clinical and clinical development trials as a leader in precision genetic medicine for rare diseases.

In Good Company in Columbus

If Amgen is a game-changer, then Intel is inventing a whole new sport, one that could easily change the face of the Midwest for decades. In early 2022, the company announced its $20 billion semiconductor megaproject that will create 7,000 construction jobs and 3,000 permanent roles at the first two fabrication facilities. However, the 1,000-acre site can accommodate up to six additional factories, potentially making Intel in Columbus the largest semiconductor manufacturing site in the world.

While some saw it as a surprising move, the tech industry has found value in Columbus for years – Google, Facebook and AWS have each invested more than $1 billion in data center facilities around the region. Beyond that, Bay Area companies like Nexient and Upstart have been growing their offices in the Columbus Region because of the quality of talent and efficient costs offered by the Region. In fact, Upstart now has more people at HQ2 in Columbus than at HQ1 on the West Coast.

This is on the heels of the Columbus Region’s own home-grown sea change within the tech industry, growing four companies valued at $1+ billion since 2017. This list includes Root, Olive, Branch and CoverMyMeds, the last of which was purchased by McKesson. The healthcare company stayed local and has grown its Central Ohio presence to 1,600 people strong, a mega project of its own.

Growth That Reaches Global Proportions

While many of these successes come from domestic firms (albeit, many of them multinationals), the Columbus Region is no stranger to global companies succeeding in the region. Honda retains a major R&D presence nearby, for example, and even scale-ups like Sweden’s fintech firm Klarna opened a regional office here in 2015.

So it’s no surprise that Italian manufacturer Sofidel has joined the action, opening its first U.S. greenfield location as it pursues growth in the North American market. The 1.4 million square-foot facility launched in 2018 and the company now employs more than 700 people.

Joining the Billion-Dollar Midwest Hub

Billion-dollar startups. Billion-dollar data centers. Billion-dollar chip plants. Why not another billion-dollar watershed investment?

That’s in motion thanks to the Ohio State University (OSU), Nationwide Children’s Hospital and JobsOhio, who created the Columbus Innovation District in 2021 on OSU’s West Campus. With $1.1 billion in real estate and research development, the District anticipates creating up to 20,000 new STEM-related jobs and a $3 billion impact on Ohio’s economy over the next ten years.

Investments like this are a better bet today than they were a decade ago, thanks in part to the growth of the innovation ecosystem around Central Ohio. Some credit for that goes to the area’s growing venture funds, foremost among them being Drive Capital. Founded by Silicon Valley veterans, the firm has been a catalyst for area startup and the life sciences industry. Today, Drive is Ohio’s first $1 billion venture fund with no slowing down in sight.

As it turns out, Drive sees in the Columbus Region what so many others have come to see themselves – no coasts, no problem.

Contact our experienced economic development team to see how we can help your company become a part of the Columbus Region’s diverse and steady growth.

Updated on September 5, 2023.

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