Bob McDonald on Innovation in Greater Cincinnati
United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs Bob McDonald
Over the past few years, the Greater Cincinnati region has quietly been building up a reputation as a hot-bed of entrepreneurial innovation: Allos, The Brandery, CincyTech, Cintrifuse, HCBC, Queen City Angels, UCRI, X-Lab; and in Northern Kentucky: UpTech, eZone, and the iNKUbator – just to name a few of the organizations that exist to help entrepreneurs succeed. These organizations, and the startups they help grow, are getting more and more attention, raising Cincinnati’s profile across the nation and around the world.
This attention is well deserved. There are now more resources poised to help entrepreneurs in the Queen City and surrounding region than there has ever been. More people are engaged and dedicated to the success of young businesses than ever before. I truly believe that Cincinnati is a place where entrepreneurs’ dreams can (and increasingly do) come true.
When the Cincinnati Business Committee launched the Regional Innovation Task Force in 2010, I was asked to spearhead the effort along with Jim Anderson (former CEO of Cincinnati Children’s Hospital) to make sure the Greater Cincinnati region grew as a vibrant place to create, attract and keep not only the types of businesses we wanted, but also the types of workers we wanted.
We are making good progress. Today, there are more than 30 distinct organizations and associations that provide assistance to entrepreneurs at every stage of their business – from ideation to exit. Just five years ago that list would have been less than half and ten years ago even fewer. Startup companies like Assurex, LISNR, and Roadtrippers are all beneficiaries of this progress. They are growing and creating jobs in our region. And, there are many more success stories.Cincinnati has all the building blocks that successful entrepreneurs need. Cincinnati is the hometown of nine Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of outstanding mid-market businesses. We have world-class universities, hospitals and research institutions and an increasing supply of venture capital. To an entrepreneur, this fertile ground represents more than product validation, there’s also no shortage of talented leaders eager to give back by becoming a mentor to a young company.
Ultimately, the goal is a vibrant city and region for all, one that we are all proud of, one that we all want to live in and proudly say we are from, one where our children want to stay, live, work, and raise their own families, and one that people from outside our region want to invest in and move into.
I encourage each of you to find a way to get involved in our innovation economy. Become a mentor, buy from startups, urge fantastic entrepreneurs to stay in the city and discover the tremendous support system we’ve built for them to make Cincinnati a place where their dreams can come true.
Bob McDonald is the 8th United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs. He is the retired Chairman of the Board, President & CEO of Procter & Gamble. Among other activities, Bob served as the Chairman of the Board for Cintrifuse – the regional initiative to support and connect the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Greater Cincinnati.