While some Columbus businesses struggled in 2020, others thrived: life science, e-commerce, and pizza


COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — Some Columbus businesses found themselves thriving during the shifting buying habits of the COVID-19 pandemic and its shutdowns in 2020.

The life sciences, logistics, and e-commerce sectors thrived, says Kenny McDonald, President and CEO of One Columbus, formerly Columbus 2020. (Watch the video for the full interview with McDonald about these sectors.)

According to McDonald, the pandemic accelerated transformation for certain businesses poised to do well. Health care sciences accelerated greatly, particularly in gene and therapeutics, with a lot of momentum from the Wexner Medical Center and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

Additionally, a shift from malls to e-commerce had a devastating impact on small businesses, but it benefited those that could pivot to e-commerce. “We see that shift accelerating, and national partners coming to Columbus to accelerate that,” McDonald said.

“The Columbus, Ohio, market is an incredibly good place to do that. Finance and insurance is a big operator here, and we saw an incredible growth in Fintech and SureTech. Root’s IPO was the largest in Ohio’s history and is poised to create thousands of jobs in our region.”

At the Conway Center for Family Business, Jill Grube, Managing Director, says they also saw growth in businesses that serve trades, construction, and equipment; manual labor and logistics; home services and home improvements; legal services, accounting, human resources, and virtual consulting.

“Overall, family businesses are feeling optimistic,” said Grube. “They definitely had challenges with short term revenue and cash flow, but they are long-thinking and plan for legacy.”

Jim Grote of Donatos Pizza won the Conway Center’s lifetime achievement award for giving back to the community.

Car dealership Ricart amped up a customer-focused business model and won an award for re-invention. The car company’s community engagement, customer service, and partnership with Smart Columbus led to a pivot towards electric vehicles.

“My advice for new businesses: reach out, network any way you can,” said Grube. “We are focused on family business, but there are multiple options for businesses out there. Make a network to find people who are supporting you.”

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