Ron Rock is the Managing Director, Financial Services Sector at JobsOhio, a private nonprofit corporation designed to drive job creation and new capital investment in Ohio through business attraction, retention and expansion efforts. Ron was interviewed by Andrew Daniels, Founder and Managing Director at InsurTech Ohio.
Ron, after speaking with our Premier Partners through the ITO Rising Series, what about their recent growth and success has stood out to you?
“The interviews that I did were a great comprehensive look at what kind of a community we have in the state of Ohio. Hearing from both incumbents and insurtech leaders about what they're doing to pursue innovative solutions in an industry that has typically been slow to adopt is invaluable. It's great that we have such a diverse set of individuals working on those types of things, whether they’re organically looking at innovative solutions, internally pursuing those innovations or looking for partnerships. It opened my eyes, but it also let me know that I have a lot of strong partners in Ohio helping pursue existing companies and helping me attract new companies to this ecosystem in Ohio.”
What is Jobs Ohio particularly excited about in 2023?
“Looking back at some of our mega deals, such as Intel and Honda, 2023 is shaping up to be very exciting. Those deals, in effect, revealed Ohio to the rest of the world. Prior to the Intel announcement, I would go to international events and people would wonder where Ohio is on the map of the United States. Those recent announcements help people know exactly where we're located. Now, when I mention Ohio to the leaders in this space, they’ll say, ‘Oh, you're where Intel is opening up.’ This growth is exciting, but it also poses the challenge of filling a lot of tech talent.
The tech talent we want to attract is not just for Intel jobs. It's also for the way we're shifting our focus in the insurance industry as being more technologically savvy, knowing how to navigate the organization not only from a technology standpoint but with additional background insurance industry knowledge. What JobsOhio is excited about in this sector is that there are a great deal of opportunities to grow our already large financial services employment base of 240,000. We can bring many more individuals into the space.”
Can you encapsulate why Ohio continues to be a dominant force in the growth and evolution of the insurance industry?
“I alluded to this earlier with the 240,000 people working in financial services. In addition to that, if you look at some of the statistics out there, we have over 275 insurance companies operating in the state of Ohio, plus over 110,000 people working in the insurance industry. What’s great about that is if you look back at the great resignation, people were leaving their jobs, but actually, the insurance industry grew during that time. That's exciting, and that's just in the core business. We have 11 large incumbents operating in the state of Ohio. These are the types of partners that Ohio has to offer. We have individuals and teams of individuals in each one of those organizations that are looking for new ventures and innovation.
With all of that happening and with our large ecosystem, there are so many people out there either pursuing the same thing or looking to be more collaborative. I think that's one of Ohio’s strong suits. When I'm out at conferences and events, I see familiar faces and hear their different stories about what they're pursuing. The excitement is palpable, talking about how slow we've been to adopt technology in this space, it still feels somewhat new, but we're starting to head over the hump where companies are much more receptive to adopting technology. When we have that strong base, we have a lot of the ingredients in the formula. I've said this before: having so many ingredients to the formula is either a selling point or putting our money where our mouth is because we do have those things in place. From venture capitalists, insurtechs and fintech startups, to large banks and large insurance companies, there's a lot going on.”
What growth opportunities do you foresee for JobsOhio over the next year or two?
“I touched on it earlier regarding the tech talent that's needed to fill these jobs. Now that we have these projects coming in that are going to need tech talent, we’ve taken a step back and said, ‘What's necessary to make sure that we're attracting new talent?’ We have a large talent pool in the state of Ohio. We don't want to just pass that workforce from one hand to the other. We want to grow net new jobs, so we're looking at new ways to attract talent that is currently sitting on the sidelines.
JobsOhio is looking to work with individual companies on solutions to attract new talent. We're looking at the possibility of new programs, which is exciting when we look at our core programs. We've had the same core programs for years but have adopted some new strategies like the JobsOhio Growth Capital Fund. We're looking even beyond that. How do we subsidize companies for attracting that new talent? Without giving away the secret sauce ahead of time, there are some big things ahead in the next year or two to make sure that we're doing everything we can to support job growth and attraction.”
Can you encapsulate why Ohio continues to be a dominant force in the financial services industry?
To encapsulate why Ohio continues to be a dominant force, I can add another item I’m most excited about. Ohio is now the 4th largest financial services economy in the United States. We recently surpassed Illinois due to our strength in the industry. Such a great way to kick off 2023! Ohio has an extremely diverse economy. At JobsOhio, we have nine sectors plus Military and Federal. Of those focused sectors, the financial services sector is the largest in terms of payroll. We're also the largest focus sector in GDP (Gross Domestic Product). Additionally, when you think about the other businesses in the state, the need for financial services is there leaving many opportunities for partnerships and collaboration on the table.