Can Greater Cincinnati succeed in attracting advanced manufacturing?

To remain competitive globally, Greater Cincinnati needs large, shovel-ready manufacturing sites. But, what strategies do urban regions like ours use to stay top-of-mind for site selectors?

In June 2016, the Port Authority, TechSolve, Inc., REDI Cincinnati, and Cushman & Wakefield, partnered to engage national site selection consultant, Darin Buelow of Deloitte Consulting to evaluate the Cincinnati market for manufacturing attractiveness.

Throughout this four-month engagement, Deloitte worked to:

  1. identify demand‐side location factors that drive site location decisions in manufacturing;
  2. understand trends in urban manufacturing deployments;
  3. understand the strengths/weaknesses of Cincinnati as a business location to help answer the question: “If we redevelop sites, will manufacturers come?”

The outcome of this study was broadly shared with legislators, the economic development community, and business leaders on Feb. 6, 2017, during a series of events during which Darin Buelow provided the study data and shared strategies to build a region that attracts growing business.





There’s a commonly held notion that manufacturing has gone offshore – so people ask “why are you trying to attract the next elephant when those jobs have gone to China or Mexico?” The reality is Ohio sees a large number of manufacturing projects – both expansions and new deployments. Ohio received more than 33,000 announced jobs from 2011-2016 – only Indiana has announced more jobs than Ohio vs. neighboring states.

In the last five years, Ohio has continued to win manufacturing projects. What does it help to have in your community if you’re trying to attract manufacturing? These manufacturing announcements are running up and down the interstate corridors. Transportation infrastructure is going to continue to be critical to manufacturers. Cincinnati is winning a good proportion of manufacturing announcements coming to the state. We’re setting the stage here. What do we need to do to get the levels higher?


What are advanced companies really looking for? What are the important location factors?

* Labor and talent availability – Companies will sacrifice many of the other location factors if they can be convinced that the workforce is there.

* Sites – Sites with rail have been picked over in this country for 150 years. The rail companies are not making more of them. Even more rare are dual rail sites – companies hate to be locked into one supplier.

* Real Estate

* Business Environment


What is the Cincinnati region’s unique strength?

Cincinnati is a metro area that makes stuff. 14 percent of the Cincinnati labor force is engaged in manufacturing. The US average is 10 percent and declining. Cincinnati is 14 percent. This is something that needs to be embraced and celebrated. This is an advantage to companies that are looking. Companies are looking for places that have a manufacturing ecosystem, and Cincinnati has it. What does Cincinnati has lots of? Tons of industrial engineers and industrial engineering technicians. Cincinnati’s location quotient is 68 percent higher than the national average. Engineering talent is in high supply and affordable to hire in Cincinnati.


What is the Cincinnati region’s unique weakness?

Cincinnati lacks large, developable, ready to go, industrial manufacturing sites in the City. I believe that with enough motivated people, this community can do something about it. If you have the sites, you’ve got most everything else. We recommend a programmatic method to developing 2, 3 or 4 large – 10+ acres in size — industrial manufacturing sites – particularly if they have access to rail.  They have to have all of the heavy utilities – water, sewer electric and gas – and if they are in the core, that can be a real differentiator. We believe more and more companies are going to be looking for sites where they can reuse and recycle and we believe Cincinnati has a great story here.