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Ohio: A Stable Choice for Safer Site Selection

With extreme weather on the rise, Ohio is the low-risk pick

Mon Apr 11 2022

When natural disasters strike, they inflict damage and destruction, leaving people and businesses to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately, due to the increased trend of extreme weather events, what was once a rare occurrence is fast becoming a common reality. When businesses consider their top site selection factors, climate risks to businesses are considerations that are proving to be ever higher priorities.

2021: Increasing Diversity and Intensity of Disasters

2021 saw 20 billion-dollar events, second only to 2020 when there were 22 billion-dollar events. These 2021 disasters accounted for $145 billion in damage across the U.S. making it the third-highest total (behind 2017 and 2005). The difference in 2021 was that there was much more diversity in the 2021 events, including winter storms in the South, wildfires, droughts, flooding, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other severe weather.

U.S 2021 Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters Map

Of course, in addition to counting the billions of dollars in damage natural disasters cause, it’s important to remember that these extreme weather events destroy people’s homes and put lives in danger – 688 people died as a result of the 20 billion-dollar disasters in 2021 – more than any year since 2011. When selecting a new site for a business, keeping in mind that the safety of employees and their families may depend on the chosen location is another site selection criterion to keep in mind.

What’s the Difference between Natural Hazards and Natural Disasters?

Both natural hazards and natural disasters are relative terms, but they are not the same thing. Natural hazards are events that threaten to affect an area negatively. Examples of natural hazards could include cold and heat waves, droughts, earthquakes, hail, strong winds, or tornadoes.

Ohio National Risk Index Map

The National Risk Index maintained by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) defines a natural disaster as “the negative impact following an actual occurrence of natural hazard if it harms a community.” To develop the National Risk Index, FEMA assesses each area’s potential for negative impact of natural hazards. When viewing the National Risk Index Counties visualization, viewers will observe that Ohio has no counties in the “Relatively High” or “Very High” categories and most counties in the “Relatively Low” and “Very Low” categories.

Learn more about how to prepare your business for a natural disaster.

This Heart-shaped State Maintains a Steady Beat

While there are several locations across the country that offer a low-risk environment for corporate site selection or check the boxes for data center location requirements, more than likely any business’ site selection criteria will also encompass things that only a developed region can offer. Ohio is one of the lowest hazard risk areas in the U.S. with lower occurrences of natural hazards such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and earthquakes. At the same time, Ohio offers the developed infrastructure businesses need to operate efficiently.

Ohio’s infrastructure encompasses roads, railways, ports, air service, and Foreign-Trade Zones (FTZ). The state is a well-established base for companies moving goods around the globe, being just a one-day drive from more than 60 percent of U.S. and Canadian populations. Plus, Ohio is one of six states to receive an A grade in logistics industry health in a Conexus Indiana report from the Ball State University Center for Business and Economic Research. The state is also one of the top 10 freight destination states by the value of goods shipped annually, making it an important state for logistics. Among the nation’s leaders for trucking and storing goods, Ohio’s north coast on Lake Erie includes a groundbreaking shipping service linking the Industrial Midwest, the Port of Toledo, and the Great Lakes to Europe.

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These days the ability to seamlessly communicate in a global marketplace is just as essential as other logistical concerns. In addition to the more traditional modes of infrastructure, Ohio has the digital infrastructure to keep any company’s workflow moving at the speed of business today. Ohio’s statewide broadband and fiber network provides companies with access to the internet and to resources and services that support broadband.

Ohio has the talent technology businesses need to maintain a full staff of experienced IT professionals. With 295,000 people already working in the technology industry, and an additional 6,200 IT graduates every year, Ohio offers companies a deep talent pool that continues to grow. As an added benefit to businesses moving to the state, Ohio offers this top tech talent without the Silicon Valley price. In fact, median hourly tech wages in Ohio are 33% lower than in California according to CompTIA Cyberstates. And that money goes further with Ohio named No. 1 most affordable state in US News’ rankings.

What is Site Selection and Why Does it Matter?

It’s all about location, and site selection is a key part of the success of any business. When choosing the site for your next office or expansion, there are numerous factors to consider and it comes down to more than just selecting a good lease in an area you like. This is where site selection comes in. Cost, access to distribution, talent, and environmental concerns like extreme weather are all important factors in site selection and the potential success of your business.

Site selection played a huge role in why Ohio landed the Intel investment—beating out 40 other sites—as they plan to build two new facilities here. According to Intel, Ohio was selected and was an ideal location for their new expansion because of our access to top talent, robust existing infrastructure, and long history as a manufacturing powerhouse. They also cited our low-risk weather with its stable and natural climate as a reason for choosing Ohio.

Whether it’s corporate or retail, Ohio has the infrastructure in place to be an ideal choice for businesses. Site Selection, a leading corporate real estate economic development magazine, ranked Ohio as the No. 2 state in the nation for total projects overall for the second consecutive year. With a statewide property database and SiteOhio Authenticated Sites (properties that are immediately approved for building), Ohio has a simplified process with due diligence and research.  

Data Centers Thrive in Low-Risk Environments

With the world increasingly relying on data, safety and physical stability for data centers is a top concern ,and Ohio has what leading technology businesses are looking for in site selection. While many companies may first look to areas in closer proximity to their headquarters or other locations in major cities, risk of natural hazards is becoming increasingly important. When a data center is built in an area at a high risk for natural hazards, expensive destruction to the building and loss of data is possible. Property loss is a possibility in severe natural disasters, but even more important is the possibility of loss of life to employees. If the risk of natural hazards is higher in a certain region, the chance of catastrophic losses unfortunately increases as well.

Major technology brands like Google, Amazon Web Services (AWS), and Facebook trust the stable, low-risk operating environment of Ohio with their data centers. When evaluating whether an area is suitable to meet data center location requirements, top site selection factors include low risk to the buildings and equipment needed for data centers to operate. In Ohio, businesses can have the benefit of a low-risk environment without compromising on the developed infrastructure needed to participate in a global marketplace.

With extreme weather events and natural disasters in the news almost daily, decision makers must take natural hazards and climate risks to businesses into consideration. Site selection criteria that take into account the potential impacts of natural disasters place companies in a position to reduce their risk by selecting areas with low occurrence of natural hazards. Of course, while safety is a top site selection factor, finding an area with the necessary infrastructure and development for a business to run effectively is key. Ohio is the smart choice for businesses looking to reduce their risk of natural disasters while benefiting from a location with a developed infrastructure.

Learn more about what Ohio’s geographical location and infrastructure offer businesses that make it a promising state for investment.

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