The climate is right for business in Northeast Ohio. Supported by the State of Ohio’s new tax structure and millions of dollars invested in technology, education and workforce development, the Northeast Ohio region offers all the elements of success in today’s global marketplace. Ohio offers the third-lowest tax rate in the nation, according to a report released in April 2011 by Ernst & Young LLP and the Council On State Taxation (COST).
Historically a global leader in manufacturing, Northeast Ohio is transitioning to the 21st century knowledge economy. From a logistics perspective, access to markets is a key advantage of the area. The region is within a 500 mile radius of 41% of all U.S. households, 55% of all U.S. manufacturing facilities, 58% of the top 500 U.S. industrial headquarters, and 56% of the top 500 U.S. service corporate headquarters. Five major U.S. interstate highways intersect the area providing continuous roadways for the region’s numerous over-the-road freight companies. The region also has a number of airports with Cleveland Hopkins (international) and Akron-Canton (regional) serving as the major hubs for air freight and passengers. The area is also served by three Class 1 carrier railroads and an additional 20 short line railroad companies. Finally, major ports are found on Lake Erie (Cleveland, Lorain) and on the Ohio River (Columbiana County) that handle the movement of raw materials and finished products throughout the United States and the world.
The region provides numerous benefits to foreign companies doing business in the area. Key to this is the U.S. Department of Commerce’s foreign-trade zones. These foreign-trade zones allow foreign and domestic merchandise to move through the zone without a formal customs entry declaration or customs duties. Merchandise moving through the foreign-trade zone is also exempt from federal and state excise/use taxes and personal property taxes. Foreign-Trade Zone (FTZ) 181 is located in the region and is administered by NEOTEC. FTZ 181 is is one of the largest of more than 270 general purpose zones in the United States in the total amount of merchandise shipped and received. Since 2000, FTZ 181 has helped the region attract more than $261 million in capital investment and the creation and retention of over 4,200 jobs.
In 2004, NEOTEC implemented an International Trade Assistance Center to provide services to companies wanting to implement or expand their importing and exporting activities. At the same time, NEOTEC helped create and administers the Northeast Ohio Logistics Network, a partnership of logistics services providers, businesses, government entities, and non-profit organizations.
Additionally, the region provides services to companies in the areas of immigration, resettlement, banking and professional services, and legal services. These services are available through experienced professional firms and, in many cases, can be referred to by a large number of private and public assistance agencies in the region. The area also offers a number of research and development networks that include the region’s institutions of higher education, major industry groups, and non-profit organizations to provide knowledge, innovative ideas, and intellectual capital to help new and existing businesses grow and adapt to the global competitive marketplace. Major regional academic institutions, such as The University of Akron and Kent State University are working to create new businesses by converting research into applications and successfully transferring technology into actionable solutions. At the center of this is the State of Ohio Third Frontier Program that provides grants and numerous other forms of assistance to innovative, technology centered companies.