Location may be everything in real estate, but it’s equally true for cleared veterans looking for second careers.  Ohio is currently the “it” state when it comes to job opportunities in defense and aerospace.

Recognized internationally as the fuel cell corridor, Ohio is the nation’s industrial capital, a center of science and technology, and the only state to have two regions make the Intelligent Community Forum’s list of global smart communities; Dublin and northeast Ohio.

Then there are the cities with their own brands.  Toledo is a national solar center, Cleveland is a regenerative medicine research hub, Columbus is the technology research and development hub, and Dayton reigns as the state’s defense and aerospace hub.  When taken together, Ohio is a hot bed of hot job opportunities for cleared veterans.  If you’re looking for motivation, here are the top reasons you may want to go Midwest:

Reason 1: Ohio’s defense and aerospace sector is hiring

The state has more than 100,000 aviation and aerospace jobs. Some of the best known industry leaders are located here, like GE Aviation, Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman.  But Ohio also hosts more than a thousand aerospace and aviation companies, with plenty of related contractors, businesses and suppliers.

“Just ten miles from downtown Dayton is Wright Patterson Air Force Base, the single largest site employer in Ohio,” said Jason Antonick, Manager of Business and Economic Development, Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.  “It employs 27,000 people inside and outside the fence.  Even with defense downsizing, about a third of the Air Force budget still runs through Wright Patterson.  And though there was concern about sequestration, Congress has put those things on hold.  When you add up the opportunities to do business here or work here, we have a vast number of job opportunities for cleared veterans.”

Antonick explained that only two years ago, Ohio was considered one of the worst states in which to do business, ranking 44th in a survey of CEOs.  The state made efforts to rectify its business reputation, and now ranks 22nd out of 50 states.

Northrop Grumman has multiple opportunities in Dayton, Cincinnati, Beavercreek and Fairborn, with high demand for engineers in all sectors; digital design hardware, software, computational electromagnetics, experimental plasma, civil and mechanical.  Analysts are also in big demand in intelligence, modeling and simulation, contract management, geospatial and human intelligence. Additional opportunities include cleared project managers and aircraft maintenance personnel.

As for salaries, the average industry wage is $76,000.  But cleared, skilled veterans generally command higher salaries.

Reason 2: Ohio is military friendly

The welcome mat is out in every region.  To address the needs of returning veterans, the state is expanding its veteran health and housing services, including a gender-specific housing program for returning female veterans.

To encourage greater veteran hiring practices and streamline the process for job seekers, the Ohio Means Veteran Jobs program offers an online site with information about job openings, state benefits, military skills translator resources and tools for finding veteran friendly employers.

Reason 3: Ohio is happy

A quick look at quality of life issues reveals a picture of optimism.  Dayton has been ranked by Forbes as the city with the happiest workers in America.  The index is based on factors that include compensation, company culture, daily tasks and relationships with bosses and co-workers.  It helps that the median home price is $102,000.

Cincinnati tops the list as the city with the happiest marriages. While not necessarily a factor when looking for a job, the score is based on a health risk assessment that looks at the role of marriage in determining physical and mental wellness. Here, home prices average $120,000.  In Columbus, they’re slightly higher, at $134,000.  But so are salaries due to the strength of the city’s technology sector.

Reason 4: Ohio is progressive

Governor John Kasich is working to put Ohio in the lead when it comes to IT transformation.  By executive order, the state is implementing technology optimization throughout its agencies, a plan that will streamline services and add new jobs.

Meanwhile, Ohio is shifting toward greater development of Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).  Located in Springfield, the Unmanned Aerial Systems Center and Test Complex recently lost out in its bid to achieve designation as a federal UAS test site.  But the state plans to continue pursuing drone technology and sensor and avoidance technology, with the goal of attracting more research and testing jobs to the state – jobs tailor made for security cleared veterans.


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Tranette Ledford is a writer and owner of Ledford, LLC, which provides writing, editorial and public relations consulting for defense, military and private sector businesses. You can contact her at: Tranette@Ledfordllc.com.