2017 October POINT!

Chamber’s InterCity Visit Shows Similarities with Columbus

L eadership from the Chamber recently attended an Intercity Visit to Columbus, Ohio. Much like Oklahoma City, Columbus has its own story of revival and reinvestment. And attendees learned that Columbus’s work has been a success: Columbus is one of the fastest-growing metros in the United States and is ranked No. 1 for population growth, job growth, GDP growth and wage growth. Columbus has 2.1 million people, five Fortune 500 companies, 15 Fortune 1000 headquarters and an incredibly diversified economy, with no industry accounting for more than 19 percent of employment. And with $1 billion in proposed investment downtown and $734 million investment under construction, Columbus is continuing its momentum. Read on for part one of a recap of what Oklahoma City leaders learned from leaders in Columbus about their city’s rise to prominence. Changing a city’s image Much like Oklahoma City’s history, Columbus’s downtown area fell into disrepair in the 1990s. According to former Columbus Mayor Michael

Coleman, their downtown was a dangerous place to be outside of business hours, the river was smelly and unusable, and no one lived downtown. With decades of division between the neighborhoods, downtown was a low priority. Mayor Coleman formulated a plan that focused on reclaiming a dying downtown shopping mall with a community park and residential developments. Many people thought to invest in downtown Columbus was crazy, but businesses located there made up 25 percent of the regional economy and they had great potential to grow. Coleman started by creating a sense of ownership from Columbus’s neighborhoods. “Downtown was everybody’s neighborhood,” Coleman said. With major public-private partnerships now complete, downtown Columbus is a symbol of the community’s ability to work together. “I cannot say I did all of this,” Coleman said. “It took the courage of the community to come together and engage in a collaboration.”

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