Engines of Economic Growth


Ohio’s larger cities and suburbs can be engines for innovation, opportunity and economic growth. Nearly one third of the state’s total population (3.4million) lives in Ohio’s 30 largest cities, and 90 percent of the state’s GDP is created in our eleven largest metro regions.


Urban areas remain centers of economic activity in Ohio.

84 percent of jobs originate from the state’s eleven metro areas. Cities are seeing success in economic development, but still face many challenges.


Ohio cities are attracting young talent.

While the state’s migration rate remains relatively unchanged since 2006, Ohio is now adding 25-to-34 year olds and people with graduate degrees faster than it did a decade ago. Young, educated professionals play a critical role in driving economic development, and 88% of 25-to-34 year olds with a bachelor’s degree or higher live in one of Ohio’s metro areas. Many of our cities are also seeing early success in reversing the brain drain; notably 16% of the Cleveland region’s college-educated young adults live in the City, compared to just 10.6% in 2006. However, Ohio still ranks just 35th in the nation in degree attainment, limiting its appeal to potential employers.


A national trend of urbanization of both jobs and talent is also in evidence.

In 2015, a total of $850 million in private investment was announced in 158 deals representing 8,734 new jobs located in Ohio’s 30 largest cities. Several major Ohio employers have announced significant new investments in urban headquarters, such as Marathon in Findlay. These moves indicate a desire by anchor employers to play a role in redeveloping downtowns as centers of economic and cultural activity, and support younger workers’ desire for urban amenities and housing.


Public entities are critical economic development anchors.

In many of Ohio’s smaller cities, two- and four-year colleges, hospitals and local governments serve as anchor institutions. A significant share of funding for these employers comes from state and other sources of government spending. Communities with one of these anchor institutions are better able to weather economic downturns, but only if direct and indirect state support remain stable and predictable. According the Center for Community Solutions: Public community colleges receive most of their revenue from federal (23 percent), state (29 percent) and local (19 percent) government subsidies, and just 29 percent from all other sources. In the case of hospitals, over 60 percent of revenue derives from Medicare, Medicaid, and other public programs.