Rebecca Fannin, renowned author of Silicon Heartland, visits Union Hall

  • ½ million tech leaders.
  • 450 international businesses.
  • 30,000 startups.
  • Nationally recognized for innovation.
What city does this describe? It’s not out in California or on the coasts. If you answered Cincinnati, you’d be right.

On track to be one of the most innovative hubs in America, Cincinnati is home to four businesses listed earlier this year on Fortune’s ranking of ‘America’s Most Innovative Companies.’ In addition to this, Cincinnati boasts a fast-growing startup ecosystem and was featured as one of the best cities for women in tech in 2022.

Earlier this month, Rebecca Fannin came to talk about her recently published book, Silicon Heartland, on the changes over the past decade turning the Midwest from a rust belt to a tech-hub.

Fannin noted, “When I visited this region—coming back here for the first time in 20 years—just seeing the transformation up-close. Getting into the heartland and interviewing the people who are making it happen; I was pleasantly surprised.”

The event began with networking, and Pete Blackshaw, CEO of Cintrifuse, kicked off the event with a short introduction. He noted, “The work we're doing now will change not only Cincinnati but shape the country for the next 25 years.”

Fannin was joined by other leaders from the region on a panel about Cincinnati’s status as an Innovation Hub. This panel included Naashom Marx, Director of Strategic Innovation at the CVG Airport, Ryan Hays, Executive Vice President and Chief Innovation & Strategy Officer at the University of Cincinnati, Tim Schigel, Managing Partner at Refinery Ventures and Derrick Braziel, Co-founder and Development Director at Mortar.

Guy Persaud shared, "Regional entrepreneurial diversity in the Midwest is a tremendous opportunity for all of us. People with great ideas in the Midwest shouldn't have to go to the coasts to get capital.”

There’s clearly a competitive advantage to building in Cincinnati with the relative ease of recruiting/retaining people, and the community is eager to support startups. Cincinnati’s startup ecosystem is powered by resources such as the Cincinnati Innovation District, Cintrifuse, and Black Tech Week, a nationally-recognized conference for tech professionals of color. Union Hall is one of the resources the city offers founders, and the building regularly welcomes guests from all over the nation to Cincinnati.
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Read more articles by Miyah Byrd.

Miyah Byrd is a storyteller and advocate based in Ohio. Her work has been featured in KIIONA Magazine, Forge, Human Parts, and ThriveGlobal. She is a former educator whose interests include food insecurity, green energy, and the self-sufficiency of the black community.