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9 Reasons to Start a Business in Cincinnati

Looking for an energetic, affordable place to do business? From startups to Fortune 500 companies, Cincinnati is the place to be.

By Emily Handy on September 26, 2018

Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati / Courtesy of Travis Estell under a CC 2.0 license.

Caught the entrepreneurial bug but unsure of where to land your new business? Forget the typical (and expensive) spots in the Bay Area or the Pacific Northwest. Cincinnati, OH, has everything you need (and more you didn’t even know you needed) to affordably create a successful startup. From a tight-knit network of startup incubators to amazing places to unwind after the work is done, The Queen City has you covered.

Want more proof? Check out these nine reasons why Cincinnati is the perfect place to start a new business or relocate your existing one. 

1. You’ll Never Work Alone

When you’re starting a business, it can often seem like you’re going it alone. You don’t have coworkers to share your struggles with, and the grind can get pretty lonely. Enter co-working spaces – places you can be productive while you’re surrounded by like-minded professionals. 

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Cincinnati has no shortage of co-working spots. In fact, choose from dozens of spots ranging from the basic desk setup to places with childcare included. No time to hit the gym? Cincinnati’s MOVE Coworking has a gym attached to it so you can pump some iron in between phone calls.

2. There’s Endless Support for Entrepreneurs

A community of investors, entrepreneurs, creatives and more, StartupCincy is a group founded to drive the new economy in Cincinnati. Cintrifuse, the organization behind the StartupCincy brand, has rounded up all of Cincinnati’s resources, including startup accelerators, incubators, angel groups, investors and university programs, to help walk entrepreneurs through the process of starting a business. One of StartupCincy’s accelerators, The Brandery, has been recognized as one of the nation’s best, and provides each business who goes through the four-month program with $20,000 in seed money. Yes, you read that right.

8 Reasons to Move to Cincinnati, OH

Since 2013, Cintrifuse has been extremely successful in fostering startups, and has 334 members with 1,100 tracked in the Greater Cincinnati region. Its goal of making Cincinnati the “premier destination for startups in the Midwest†is quickly becoming reality.

3. Fuel Up With Amazing Food (Not Just Chili)

Of course, Cincinnati is known for its famous chili topping heaps of spaghetti or hotdogs. But never fear! If you’re not a chili fan, this Ohio city is staking out a place for itself in the pantheon of great food cities. Seafood restaurant Eighth & English dishes out small plates of swordfish meatballs and octopus stew, while food truck-turned-restaurant Panino serves diners heaps of charcuterie. James Beard award-winning chef Jose Salazar brings Columbian tapas to the city at Mita’s. What more could you want?

Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati / iStockPhoto/aceshot

4. Great Places to Unwind After a Productive Day

After a hard day trying to score funding, it’s nice to sit back and have a drink. Cincinnati comes alive after 5 p.m. with all of its bars and cocktail lounges offering some pretty sweet happy hour deals. Head to Orchids at Palm Court for a generous happy hour Monday through Friday from 4 p.m. until 7 when half-price food and $5 martinis grace the menu. Located in Cincinnati’s Central Business District, Palomino offers a fantastic happy hour, making it a go-to spot for drinks afterwork.

5. Establish an Affordable Home Base

Not everyone knows how great Cincinnati is yet, but that’s a good thing for future business owners. The city is cheap enough to establish a home base, and according to Jeff Barrett, CEO of Barrett Digital, Cincinnati’s hip, up-and-coming neighborhood, Over-the-Rhine (known as OTR), is “exactly where any founder or aspiring founder would want to live.”

With a median rent of just $649, it’s no surprise that Cincinnati earned a spot on Livability’s list of the 10 Best Affordable Places to Live. Plus, the city is extremely walkable, saving you money on a car or public transportation. The cost of living in Cincinnati is comparable to what you’d find in a much smaller or less exciting city, but the amenities residents enjoy here – in terms of food, art, culture and things to do – are on par with a major metropolis. 

Cincinnati, OH
Cincinnati / Courtesy of Travis Estell under a CC 2.0 license.

6. Proximity to Fortune 500 Companies

The Queen City is home to a surprisingly high number of Fortune 500 companies – nine, in fact. The Kroger Co., P&G, Macy’s and, most recently, Cintas, have all established themselves here, proving that Cincy is indeed a world-class city to run a business. These established companies are invested in the city’s startup scene, and were the very ones who banded together in 2012 to start Cintrifuse. This kind of supportive ecosystem and collaboration between giant corporations and tiny startups is extremely rare – and a testament to the supportive atmosphere here.

7.  Work Hard, Play Hard

Make no mistake: Cincy is not a city for all work and no play. The city is chock-full of museums, breweries, sports teams and even outdoor activities like canoeing on the Little Miami. Catch a Reds or Bengals game, or meet Fiona the hippo at the Cincinnati Zoo. There’s really something for everyone here.

8. The Talent Pool Runs Deep

All of the great benefits of living and working in Cincinnati have drawn in many young professionals eager to work in the startup space. “What makes Ohio a great incubator for early-state startups is its unmatched access to customers and talent,†Falon Donohue of VentureOhio told Forbes

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More than 200 colleges and universities are pumping out talented engineers and entrepreneurs ready to get their professional start. It’s a talent hotbed, but it’s not yet oversaturated. For companies and startups looking to hire, it’s a dream come true. 

9. Your Funding Will Go Farther

Every dollar counts when you’re in the trenches of starting a new business. Cincinnati is way more forgiving in this department than the Bay Area, and has a burn rate of literally half of what it would be in California. Plus, all of the overhead that it takes to run a business (rent, attorneys, etc.) cost about 40 percent less in Cincinnati than in other bigger cities. The bottom line? From housing costs to quality of life, in Cincinnati, you get way more bang for your buck.

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