Columbus’s Technology and Startup Scenes are On The Rise

Columbus Chamber
The Columbus Chamber provides connections, resources and solutions that help small businesses and Fortune 500 enterprises grow Central Ohio's economy.

Member Insights by Andy Effler, Tenant-only representative at JLL

It would be hard for a big venture fund to look me in the eyes and tell me that Columbus is still considered a “flyover city.” In fact, a strong argument can be made that Columbus has landed (pun intended) on the map for viable startup companies and venture funds looking for a hot Midwest startup ecosystem to launch, join or invest in. What’s more, beyond the headlines of venture backed startups, there are big waves coming out of the arts, food, beverage and fashion companies that are enriching our city. I’m confident in saying that we are crafting the right recipe for a very bright future in Columbus.

Setting the Stage for Technology Success

Our city boasts a long list of accolades and amenities that continue to strengthen our thriving technology and startup scenes, putting the city in strong competition with some of the country’s most notable startup hubs. The numbers speak for themselves. According to a recent report from Cyberstates, employment in Ohio’s technology industry grew by nearly 3,000 jobs in 2017 alone as the industry itself added more than $30.9 billion to the state’s economy. Today, Ohio takes the No. 10 spot out of all 50 states in net technology employment with 384,000 workers in the industry.

For those currently in or entering the technology workforce, Columbus is a no-brainer.

Ohio’s capital city ranked as the No. 1 city for technology workers, and the No. 5 top U.S. City for Entrepreneurs and Startups in 2018, based on a study of over 300 North American cities and ranked each according to factors such as higher education, local employment, income vs. rent and startup surges. Additionally, the proximity to many Fortune 500 companies makes Columbus a very attractive location for investment.

Columbus also maintains an educated workforce, including 46% of Ohio State University graduates staying in Columbus—higher than comparable cities like Austin (University of Texas – 41%) and Raleigh (Duke / UNC / NC State – 36%). And, making the city even more desirable, a $50 million Smart City grant landed in 2016 that has grown to roughly $500 million with support from both the public and private sectors. It’s no wonder local companies are focusing workforce growth in Columbus and national companies are flocking to the region. Columbus continues to attract and retain an abundance of entrepreneurs, startups and technology talent alike, positioning our city for continued growth in the industry.

Securing a Workspace to Thrive

If you live in Columbus, like me, none of the above is new news.

Right about now you may be asking yourself, “Why is a real estate broker writing an article about the startup community in Columbus?” And moreover, “Why am I reading this?”

Over my career in commercial real estate, I’ve had the opportunity to represent multiple scaling startup and technology companies and work with the innovators, disrupters and leaders in the industry and in our city. What excites me most is the opportunity to work with forward-thinking individuals and teams that won’t settle for what exists today, but instead are on a mission to challenge industries, affairs and environments for a better tomorrow. Similar to many technology innovators and their industries, it’s JLL’s mission to disrupt the “status quo” of brokerage services and ensure that scaling companies in Columbus have a real estate partner they can trust to have their best interest in mind every step of the way.

One of the most important decisions that a scaling company will make, outside of their core business, involves its workspace. Ideally, a company’s workspace should encompass their mission, values and provide an experience that represents their unique culture. It’s an arrow in a company’s quiver for attracting and retaining talent, and at the end of the day a company’s most important asset is its talent.

That said, the decision to lease or purchase space involves many variables and risks that can easily blindside a tenant during its office search, including:

  • Positioning your company with options within real estate lease negotiations.
  • Risk-averse landlords, especially for emerging startup and technology companies.
  • Understanding the different lease types and new accounting standards.
  • Cost overruns, such as moving costs and tenant improvements.

Despite the many variables that exist, it’s also true that a lot of them can be minimized and efficiencies can be adequately planned for with proper guidance and strategy.

Based on our experience in working with multiple scaling companies, we’ve put together this real estate roadmap for scaling companies in Columbus to help jumpstart their occupancy strategies, to plan for the obligation of taking on an office lease, and to lay out the ideal process and timeline for executing the right decision. Download the free report and reinvent your approach to office space.

About the author:

Andy Effler and the JLL Columbus tenant-rep team have a combined 45+ years of experience focusing exclusively on the tenant / user side of leasing / purchasing decisions. By not representing landlords / building owners, we avoid conflicts of interest, and our clients are assured they have a partner they can trust with advisors who are focused on their value and needs every step of the way. Over the past several years, Andy and the JLL Columbus tenant-rep team have placed a heavy focus on the Columbus startup and technology ecosystem and have partnered with over 50 companies to execute the right real estate decisions. Connect with Andy and the JLL Columbus tenant-rep team and experience the difference today!