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Ohio State contributes to Columbus’ lead in emerging startup cities

Forbes magazine and Revolution, a VC firm, select Columbus as number one emerging startup city. Credit: Adreyn Yates | Lantern Reporter

Ohio State has helped the city of Columbus pull ahead of major cities like St. Louis, Atlanta, Denver, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Portland, Oregon, Philadelphia and Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota.

Columbus took the No. 1 spot on Forbes magazine’s list of emerging venture capital startup cities edging out the more traditional major cities with help from Ohio State’s presence among other factors.

One group that expected Columbus to rank well, partly due to its own efforts, was Columbus 2020, which serves the economic development organization for the Columbus region.

“I’m not surprised to see Columbus on the list, in light of the accelerated tech and VC activity here in the last couple years,” Jung Kim, Columbus 2020’s managing director of research and business intelligence, said.

Forbes magazine and Revolution, a venture capital firm, looked for cities they thought would continue to thrive for years to come. Columbus earned high scores for the university’s presence, low costs of living and doing business, increase in venture capital deals — which is when investors provide money to new or small businesses who they believe have a long-term growth potential — and the high number of funds making investments.

Forbes and Revolution chose 10 cities from the 30 largest metro areas in the United States that stood out in 13 areas, including the cost of living, entrepreneurship rates, working-age population growth and VC investments.

According to Forbes, large companies such as Nationwide, State Automobile Mutual Insurance and Grange Insurance — which have supported smaller businesses — helped move Columbus up the list. With this kind of financial support, Forbes said Ohio State graduates are more likely to find a job, which has helped the working-age population in the city to grow by 9 percent in the past five years.

“Ohio State is both a major provider of talent to the Columbus region and a hub of industry [research and development] and commercialization,” Kim said. “When you have more than 1,500 degrees annually from just OSU in computer science and IT, that means a lot to employers looking to scale.”

Kim hopes that the news will not just serve as a pat on the back, but will help propel the city forward.

“National recognition is always nice in validating the work we’re doing here, meaning that we’re not just drinking our own kool-aid,” Kim said. “At the same time, I hope this kind of news will continue to heighten our expectations of what is possible here.”

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