By Ted Griffith, managing director of information technology at JobsOhio
Twelve years ago, Ohio invested $1.6 billion in Ohio Third Frontier, which laid the groundwork for entrepreneurs, startups, and incubators to launch. That investment is paying off. Today, there are some 25 incubators and accelerators throughout the state, fostering creative tech solutions across industries, while Ohio’s Fortune 500 firms often create their own innovation labs to spur advances.
But it’s not just the large firms and “unicorn” startups making strides. In data analytics, computer science, and cybersecurity, Ohio is moving to the forefront in not only developing technology talent, but also becoming home to the innovative companies making the most of that talent.
Higher IT, Lower Costs
It starts with higher education, where more and more of the state’s 200 institutions are introducing advanced IT programs to meet growing workforce demands. Ohio also offers significantly lower operating costs to companies than many states – in fact, almost 70 percent lower than Silicon Valley. And by location, 60 percent of North America’s entire population is within a one-day’s drive or a short flight. Additionally, 55 Fortune 1000 companies are headquartered there, meaning in-demand customers are close by.
Cybersecurity has also taken a big leap forward recently. 45 academic institutions in Ohio have cybersecurity programs, including six designated as National Security Agency (NSA) Centers of Academic Excellence, and two others certified by the NSA in cyber operations.
Tech Talent and Growth
In addition to higher education’s cyber focus, the state formed the Ohio Cyber Collaboration Committee (OC3) in February 2017. Headed by the Ohio National Guard, the OC3 includes 200 public, private, military, and educational organizations across the state that have joined together to prepare and defend against the onslaught of cyber threats. From hands-on hacking competitions to a new Ohio Cyber Range, where students and companies can test their skills and tools against malicious programs in a virtual safe space, OC3 presents multiple opportunities to collaborate and develop cyber talent here in Ohio. The cyber range is one of just a few in the country.
Ohio has become a prime location for developing tech talent, while creating new companies and new IT services within existing firms. The state’s mix of smart IT grads, an ideal economic environment for startups, and a recent groundswell of technology innovation are encouraging more IT-focused companies to make their move to the state.