2016 Year in Review: Trends

2016 has been quite a year. Aside from ups, downs and political discourse, it proved to be a banner year for the small business community in Columbus. Below we outline the industries and topics making news in the entrepreneurial community for the year. 

Industry Trends 

Columbus continues to try to make a name for itself on a national scale as a good place to start a business. While those involved in the entrepreneurial and small business scenes may feel the collaborative energy oft-reported, what does the data say?

Different organizations attempt to measure small business sentiment and success in different ways. Thumbtack.com’s annual Small Business Friendliness survey, measuring how state and public policies affect an individual’s ability to start, operate and grow a business, showed some wavering grades for Central Ohio. The report which centers around feedback from small business owners docked Columbus from an A- in 2015 to a B in 2016 in overall friendliness.

Measures from the Kauffman Foundation seemed to validate the collaboration of Columbus’ entrepreneurial community. Columbus ranked #4 Highest in Growth Entrepreneurship Activity 2016. Columbus also found itself at or near the top of the list for largest share of high-growth companies in two industries: IT and advertising & marketing.

For the sixth year in a row, the Franklin Country Retail Summit highlighted the role that retail plays in Columbus’ economy. While retail-based sales tax revenue grew, retail employment remained flat. Heavy hitters in the retail industry discussed the influence of millennials and the importance of placemaking, and of course, the continued rise of e-commerce. But, don’t say goodbye to the brick-and-mortar just yet.

Finally, the 2015 VentureOhio Report outlined the state of venture capital in Ohio. Venture investments are on the rise in the state, up 14 percent to $373 million. The report analyzed investments by stage and amount, while industry investors and leaders discussed the $1 billon gap that still remains for venture funds in Ohio.


Columbus’ coworking scene continued to grow with the introduction of a number of new spaces in 2016. Coworking offices opened their doors in the Downtown urban core to the suburbs, each offering a different environment for potential tenants. With 20 plus options outlined in The Metropreneur’s Coworking Guide, there’s a space to fit every entrepreneur’s needs, from executive-style private offices, to shared, collaborative spaces.

Downtown was the crux of coworking activity for the year. Office Evolution opened in the Huntington Center in November, targeting a more professional crowd with executive-style amenities. Lumos created a hub of entrepreneurial activity from their State Street address, which includes some coworking space. Gay Street said hello and goodbye to Yardstick Studios as a tenant opted to rent the whole space. Two additional spaces will open their doors Downtown in 2017 – E.V. Bishoff’s Club Level Coworking and future artistic hub Blockfort.

Just outside of Downtown, joint coffee shop and coworking venture Bottoms Up Coffee Co-Op celebrated its grand opening Franklinton. The Hub on Kenny is making use of the space above bar Harrison’s on Kenny, and includes areas optimal for events. Finally, COhatch brought Worthington its first coworking space in a former community theater. The city has been so receptive to the idea, a second COhatch location including coworking studios for artists is already on deck for 2017.

Delivery to Your Doorstep

After an explosion of food delivery services in 2015, more restaurant-based services joined the party, but more than just dinner got its time in the delivery spotlight.

DoorDash rounded out the meal scene, and two giants entered the market: UberEATS in August, and as of last week, Amazon Restaurants Prime Now. Local eateries discussed the pros and cons of the services and which delivery options they prefer. On the consumer end, Metropreneur compared the options – providing the details on DoorDash, OrderUp, SkipTheDishes, Grubhub, Postmates and UberEATS.

Skipping the grocery store also became an option with the Columbus expansion of Alabama-based Shipt. And something that a lot of people have probably wished for at some point, Alcohol Deliveries is working on getting booze to your doorstep. (Stay tuned for updates!)

As the year wraps up, we’ll be sharing some of the most interesting articles and best advice published on The Metropreneur month-by-month in 2016.

Find out what made headlines in January – June and July – December!