Major Industries

Athens County is the only county in Southeast Ohio that produces a base of workers attractive to both the high-technology and advanced services industries that need college graduates to operate.  Athens County’s strategic location in the middle of larger urban centers of Columbus, Pittsburgh, and Charleston creates substantial opportunities to develop high-tech and advanced services jobs as Athens is close enough to these urban centers to capitalize on national airports and other services these companies may need. Additionally, Athens County possesses a competitive edge compared to other places as there is a significantly lower cost of living and wages which are attractive to businesses.

Athens’ major and growing industries include:

  • Healthcare
  • Business and Financial Operations
  • Production
  • Management Occupations
  • Construction and Extraction

Healthcare in Athens County:

The healthcare sector in Athens County is one to pay close attention to. According to data collected in our Strategic Plan, it is the leading industry sector in the state of Ohio from an employment and growth standpoint, and is the second largest sector from an employment perspective in Athens County.  Athens County’s largest job growth from 2011 to 2016 came from the healthcare sector, which added 24 percent of jobs. Healthcare jobs typically provide higher paying, living wage jobs that the ACEDC is committed to growing for Athens residents.

The expansion of Ohio Health O’Bleness also provides opportunities to further grow the healthcare sector and become a healthcare hub for the region. The ACEDC’s strategic plan outlines plans to with partners to leverage these opportunities and secure private and public sector funds for the creation of an innovation corridor linking the university to the community’s healthcare centers. The map above shows the concentration of healthcare industry in Athens County compared to surrounding counties (data taken from EMSI).

Potential Innovation Corridor Linking OU and Ohio Health

Image taken from Ohio University Master Plan


Business and Financial Operations

The Athens County area is rich in the business and financial operations industry, due in large part to Ohio University’s presence in the county. According to our 2020 Strategic Plan, the wages for this industry sector have continuously increased since our 2016 strategic plan and continue to grow!

Ohio University College of Business

Ohio University’s College of Business trains students to be successful in the business industry and fosters a space of mentorship and inclusion with Athens County local businesses.

The Ohio University Innovation Center

The Ohio University Innovation Center has an amazing track record of assisting local start-ups in the technology and biomedical industries in their formative years, which allows them to graduate into a full-fledged successful business. Success stories include: OsteoDxEquilibrium SolarStirling Ultracold Global Cooling, amongst many many others!

Business Organizations

The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce has created and fostered a sense of inclusiveness and support for small businesses throughout Athens County. This truly ensures that professionals of all ages can enjoy a place to work and live with many financial operations businesses calling Athens County home.

Production and Manufacturing

Athens County has a well-diversified Production and Manufacturing sector representing many type of products, including advanced services and the technology and biomedical fields. Read more below!

Advanced Services

Athens County is well positioned to succeed in the advanced services industry—the highly educated population positions the county well for high-wage jobs in Healthcare, Manufacturing, Transportation and Material Moving, Life, Physical and Social Sciences, and Architecture and Engineering. Its base of advanced services jobs illustrates growth potential in these emerging industries. Athens County is also fortunate to have multiple interstate natural gas lines traveling across the county that can be a source of low cost energy for energy-intensive manufacturers. For these reasons, Athens County remains an economic powerhouse as a leading center for high-wage advanced services and manufacturing jobs.

The manufacturing sector covers a broad range of industries from food production to consumer products. American manufacturing is a long-standing tradition in Athens County, and the Athens County Economic Development Council will continue to build on its history.

Operating Advanced Services & Manufacturing Companies:

Technology & Biomedical

Athens County has a strong start in the development of jobs tied to the tech sector and its technology commercialization activity is mature. Technology-based Economic Development initiatives are attractive because they create high wage “multiplier” jobs with companies in the growth mode for the Information Age economy. The ACEDC intends to build on our already successful small business and technology-based economic development programs by developing small businesses and attracting technology jobs through the establishment of an Athens Community Fund and development of a technology accelerator. Read more about the Athens Community Fund in our Strategic Plan.

Tech Commercialization Framework

Athens also benefits from an advanced university technology commercialization process at Ohio University.  Ohio University has operated a Technology Transfer Office since 1991 that is part of the Vice President for Research and Creative Activity division at Ohio University.  The Technology Transfer Office is part of the university’s entrepreneurial ecosystem that works closely with the Innovation Center business incubator, the Edison Biotechnology Institute, the Center for Entrepreneurship, and TechGROWTH Ohio, which provides funding and entrepreneurial support for tech, IT, biomedical, etc. companies in Southeast Ohio.

Operating Technology/Biomedical Companies:

Management Occupations

Athens County is a great place to live, work, and play–due in most part to the jobs, natural beauty, and cultural attractions of the region, and the affordable housing market. Some of these great jobs include management occupations which give professionals of all ages a chance to find a great career. Job seekers can find positions at a host of organizations including those in the private, public, and nonprofit sectors!

Construction and Extraction

Athens County and its proximity within the Appalachian foothills are rich in natural resources which allows the region to take advantage of the construction and extraction industries. Athens County also has a strong labor force for the Construction and Extraction industries.