A London financial group is coming to Ohio to grow mid-market companies

A London-based financial services firm has an eye on growing mid-market companies in the U.S., and it’s getting started in Ohio.

London Stock Exchange Group has signed an agreement with JobsOhio to launch Elite, its business support and capital-raising program, in Ohio. The business collective says this will help it strengthen ties to U.S. capital markets while expanding its reach among mid-market companies, its target demographic.

It’s London Stock Exchange’s first entry in the United States and will bring its training programs to bear in helping companies that are already seeing some success structure their next phase of growth.

“The whole idea is accelerating these companies,” Valentina Isakina, the managing director of financial services for JobsOhio, told me. “We can help them understand the secret sauce, figure out a plan to grow, and lift up other businesses and regional economies in the process.”

The Elite training and mentoring program is targeted at management tasks like relationship building and connecting with investors. JobsOhio will assemble groups of businesses under “cohorts” that allow executives to interact with one another and learn about entrepreneurship. Over a yearlong program, they’re connected with schools, investors, peer companies and within their market sectors.

Elite touts a community of 900 companies across 32 countries and in all business sectors, and it says job creation and revenue growth for these companies outpace their peers.

“Things get more complicated when you’re growing and the business is in that place in its life,” Isakina said. “The market is changing so quickly, sometimes you can find yourself becoming irrelevant quickly, so this is an extension of that support in a new phase of their lives.”

So how did the London group set its sights on Ohio? The state has a gross domestic product of $650 billion – the same size as Switzerland, and that convinced London Stock Exchange this would be a worthy market.

And it sees this as a place where it can expand, as well. The Midwest is home to the greatest concentration of U.S. mid-market companies that could benefit from its services. Ohio alone has 900,000 small- and mid-sized companies.

“Business is very collegial here,” Tom Tyler, director and global head of sales for London Stock Exchange, said. “That’s not always the case. Having an environment like that lets you pull them together and have greater chance for collective growth.”

JobsOhio, in the meantime, sees a potential for these kinds of services to elevate companies in the state that are looking to grow, but struggle with the networks and resources to do so. The first cohort is being assembled centered around Athens and Ohio University later this year, but more will come after that.

This cohort, convened with the Appalachian Partnership for Economic Growth, will connect companies in Southeast Ohio with professional services firm BDO, law firms Bricker & Eckler LLP and Kegler Brown Hill + Ritter, and financial institutions Huntington Bank, Ohio Valley Bank and Peoples Bank.

Eventually, it sees prospective cohorts assembling in other areas around the state or around certain topics, like fintech, recruitment or succession planning. The expectation is to train 50 to 100 companies in the first year or two, Tyler said.

“This is a huge untapped market for growing companies,” Tyler said.

Originally published in Columbus Business First  |  October 12, 2018