Ohio is part of the Great Lakes region in the United States. Being located by lakes and rivers was the key to its early commercial successes. Its commercial successes now lie within the agricultural, capital goods, industrial output, major corporation, health care and tourist industries. The population of Ohio has increased four and a half percent in the past decade - a healthy, steady growth. The per capita income of the population is $31,000 - 25th in the country.

What does this mean for those interested in commercial real estate in Ohio?

Much of Ohio's commercial real estate is thriving, particularly around its major cities. The economy of Columbus, the state's capital and largest city, is the 10th strongest in the United States. It is home to many insurance and technology companies. There are 100,000 college students located in the Columbus area, and retail commercial property and student housing are strong sectors of the commercial real estate market. Indeed, there are over 100 colleges and universities in Ohio, the bulk of which are private liberal arts colleges, so there is almost always a market for student housing and student-focused retail.

Cleveland, the largest metro area in the state, formerly had a thriving manufacturing industry centered around Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River. Those industries are now struggling, and the city hasn't quite figured out how to replace them with office space or light industry. That is the direction the industrial economy is headed, what with the city attracting more pharmaceutical and biotech headquarters, but during the transition, there is a glut of cheap, vacant industrial property.

Fifty-five percent of the land in Ohio is farmland, but as is the case in many of the country's agricultural areas, the land is quickly being converted to residential use. Agricultural land can still be had relatively inexpensively in Ohio, and residential and retail deveopers are moving in a rapid pace. The population hasn't quite followed the building boom in the agricultural areas, but it should come with Ohio's slow, steady growth.

One area to watch out for is southeastern Ohio. This Appalachian region is home to rugged and beautiful, but almost utterly destroyed land. Decades of coal mining have stripped the land and left the residents of the region with a legacy of poverty. Regional authorities have come together to spur growth and non-mining economic development in the region, so there is some incentive for the investor. At this time, however, there is probably not enough incentive to overcome the questions of how to get land from mining interests and what to do with it anyhow. As the region recovers, environmentally, it could perhaps become a vacation destination, but this type of investment would take a patient and far-sighted investor.