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Why Entrepreneurs Call Ohio Home

Take it from the co-owner of an innovative agriculture venture, there's no better place to start and grow a business.

Starting and growing the business of your dreams sounds exhilarating but it requires hard work, stress, and many sleepless nights. Ambitious entrepreneurs are laser focused on building a business right and doing so in a place that will facilitate growth and success.


If you ask Mike Zelkind, co-founder and CEO of Hamilton, Ohio-based 80 Acres Farms, there’s no place he’d rather do business. For him, Ohio is more than just a place to call home. It’s also the perfect place to start and scale a business.

The business environment in Ohio is a big draw for many entrepreneurs, as it attracts global investment and fosters growth. Its simplified tax structure and affordable cost of doing business are major attractions for business as well. For Zelkind, Ohio is the place he can follow his passion and get things done.

“Ohio is home to me, which speaks to the fact that it’s an enjoyable place to live, but it goes beyond that,” Zelkind says. “Ohio is, on one hand, small enough and forgiving enough to experiment and trial with a business, but it’s also large enough to scale your business at a rapid rate. I like to say, that ‘if the business works in Ohio, you can take that business anywhere.’”

The perfect place to find creative solutions.

In Ohio, research and development spurs innovation and economic growth. Zelkind hopes all that innovation can help solve real problems, too. After working in the food industry for more than three decades, Zelkind and his business partners realized that the food system in America needs work. At 80 Acres Farms, the mission is to provide access to healthy, nutritious foods to the communities in which the farms are located.

“The food system isn’t necessarily broken in the traditional sense of the word. There are issues with the supply chain and getting real, nutritious foods into our bodies,” Zelkind explains. “A lot of communities suffer from food deserts because there aren’t food sources nearby and shipping foods in from elsewhere is costly. Food travels, on average, about 2,000 miles from farm to retailer, and there’s an issue with that, not only economically but environmentally.”

Right here in his home state of Ohio, Zelkind set out to establish farms next to distribution centers and closer to customers to help eliminate the distance that food travels from farms to consumers, he says. But how could this be possible, especially in urban areas? The folks behind 80 Acres Farms had to get creative and develop a new way of farming—not out in the fields, but rather, indoors.

By growing produce in hydroponic gardens, 80 Acres Farms has found a way to yield crops more than 300 times what a normal farm can with 97 percent less water, Zelkind says, and all while using renewable energy to sustain these indoor farms.

“By growing inside, we can also grow pesticide free, and we can considerably reduce the amount of plastics used to package and ship produce,” he says. “We realized that if we could apply technology to agriculture, grow food closer to the point of consumption, and re-integrate farmers back into their communities, we could grow food in a community, for the community, by the community, all while significantly reducing our energy footprint.”

An ‘unmatched’ work ethic that spurs success.

In the Buckeye State, R&D happens across the state within networks of incubators, universities, and private corporations. It starts at Ohio’s world-class universities, community colleges, trade schools, workforce training programs, and apprenticeships. Here, invention and innovation are powered by a workforce that is educated, committed, skilled, and productive.

Part of the success at 80 Acres Farms can be attributed to tapping into this smart, vibrant workforce. “The work ethic here is unmatched because people really do care,” Zelkind says. “We have a very mission-based workforce, and it’s the people in the community that help your business either succeed or fail. The teams that we have based in Ohio are second to none, and simply put, we’re proud of our home here.”

Zelkind believes that there’s a special ethos that guides the communities and businesses in Ohio that empowers him to meaningfully run his business.

“It took me a while to mature enough and understand what’s important in my life and my business, and the core of that is now shaped by the impact of the community,” Zelkind explains. “80 Acres Farms strives to have a positive impact on the neighborhoods we find ourselves in, but the way the people in those communities support and champion us as well is truly special—and that’s not unique to just us. From every executive here down to every employee or customer, there’s a unique Midwestern ethos that fuels success here.”

Click here to learn more about why Ohio is one of the best places to start or relocate a business.


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