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Breaking business news and updates in and around Columbus

  • Guest Blog: Designing for a Growing Columbus

    Posted on Aug 29, 2014


    By Curtis J. Moody

     In recent decades, Columbus has managed to thrive amid economic downturns that battered Ohio’s other major cities. Even when the rest of the state struggled through the Great Recession, Columbus continued to grow.

     Building trends within our city reflect this vitality. Major new public and private projects are contributing both to quality of life and more economic growth, providing another arrow in the quiver of corporate recruiters and economic development professionals who can cite Columbus as a shining star in the Midwestern sky.

     All of which brings to mind two primary questions: First, what is causing our growth? And second, assuming we continue to grow, how should we design our infrastructure to meet future needs?

     The first question is relatively easy to answer. Columbus is growing because it is endowed with a highly diversified economy, strong corporate and government leaders, an advantageous location and a high quality of life.

     While the city has some light manufacturing, that has never been the core of our economy. Instead, financial services, retail, education and government, healthcare and other predominantly professional industries turn the gears to the engine that makes Columbus run.

      Education and healthcare are two of the biggest drivers and attract smart, young new residents. We boast the state’s largest university—the Ohio State University—and the state’s largest economic impact project—the $1 billion Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center expansion. Yet, we’re also home to Ohio’s largest community college, numerous smaller private colleges, two other major healthcare systems and Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

     Major banks, insurance companies, attorneys, architects, engineers and similar professions make Columbus a major Ohio services center. We are one of the largest fashion centers in the country, due to LBrands and other clothing retailers. Having state government and its support structure here doesn’t hurt either.

     Finally, Columbus has also emerged as a growing transportation hub, benefiting from both a strategic location and a core logistics infrastructure supporting commerce by air, rail and truck.

     These stable and growing industries mean Columbus is continually creating new jobs and attracting new businesses. But to entice new workers and employers, we need to make Columbus an attractive place to live, work and play. That requires offering engaging infrastructure in the form of housing, office space, hotels, shopping, entertainment and neighborhoods. This will become even more important in the next two decades.

     Projections indicate that the central Ohio region will need 250,000 new residential units by 2050. We will likely accommodate the demand both with new housing and by filling current vacancy rates.

     We’re beginning to see more people who want to live within urban settings that feature mixed-use properties, higher population densities, entertainment options and public transportation. Consequently, the city of Columbus has made bold efforts to attract new residential development within the city, and that effort is paying off. During the first decade of the 21st century, the population of Downtown Columbus grew by 40 percent.

     While residents are demanding more housing options, businesses face new needs as well. During the recession, some downsized their quarters, while others did not. However, one thing practically all are emphasizing is sustainability. We, as architects and engineers, are increasingly employing greener, healthier designs and fitting buildings with recycled materials, right down to the carpets.

     What’s the future of Downtown, and how can we design for future growth? While development is occurring along High Street in the historic Downtown area—consider the Columbus Commons and 250 High, the new mixed-use development next door—you have to also include in our “Downtown” the Short North and Ohio State University. Today, there is activity at all three locations, which has not occurred for many years.

     The activity we’re seeing points to the need both for urban housing and ancillary developments that accommodate the work, living and entertainment needs of a wide range of residents: families, “creative class” singles, empty nesters and college students.

     At the same time, we must not neglect the public sector projects that also improve quality of life. Reclamation of the Scioto River is a wonderful thing for the city, but we have a bountiful collection of city parks that also must be maintained to assure our city is a place people want to be. Amenities like new library branches, which the Columbus Metropolitan Library is building, and providing multipurpose public recreation facilities are also the kinds of things that improve and reclaim neighborhoods and help our city to grow.

     The stars are aligned in Columbus. We are fortunate to have visionary leaders and talented developers, architects, engineers and construction managers who are helping us to design for the future. Once a trait of the suburbs, these trends have moved into our urban core. Success for our city is sure to follow.

     Curt Moody is the President and CEO of Moody Nolan, a Columbus based architectural firm and the largest African American owned firm in the Nation. Visit the Moody Nolan site to learn more:


  • Guest Blog: Everyone’s A Winner—NOT!!!!

    Posted on Aug 22, 2014

    (Editor’s Note: This is the ninth in a series of columns by family business leaders and advisors with information and ideas about topics unique to family businesses, developed in conjunction with the Conway Center for Family Business.)

    By Beatrice E. Wolper

    We are raising a generation of winners. They win at everything they do. They win trophies for playing, for showing up, for “trying,” for listening and for being. No one loses. Ever.

    But, in the long run, we are not doing them any favors. Unless they learn how to lose, how to face adversity and how to face defeat, they may not be able to face failure. And everyone fails, sometime.

    But it is natural for a parent try to avoid exposing a child to failure—something that would make his or her child sad. And yet, as reported in Psychology Today, February 2013, failure gives a child a “solid foundation and a springboard for the trials and tribulations of life.”

    For family businesses, the inability to face failure is a huge stumbling block to the successful transition from one generation to another. The more resilient a person is, the more he or she is able to create alternatives to roadblocks. The more confident a person is, the more he or she can face a defeat, learn from it and move on.

    When family business founders make it so that the next generation never has to create alternatives to failure, the next generation is stumped when a situation arises that they can’t fix. And since they have no skills built in to cope with such a loss, they lack the confidence to figure out a solution on their own.

    Consequently, a disastrous domino effect takes place: the next gen can’t figure out what to do; they panic; the founders step in to quickly fix the situation, and the next gen hears: “you are incapable of success.” The result may be that they feel inadequate, and then next gen begins to think about leaving.

    So what can the family business do to correct years of…everyone wins!!!  One of the first things is to start being realistic—no matter the age of the next gen. Children are not always on a winning team (especially if the team loses).  Children are not ALWAYS wonderful, fabulous, marvelous, or outstanding!!!!  Sometimes they need to hear, “that may not have been your hardest try” or “oh, that’s too bad you didn’t have a good score, but you tried and next time you may do better.”

    Another extremely important corrective action is to have a conversation about confidence and resilience at a family business council meeting. Since it may be difficult for a founder to talk about failures, a facilitator may help guide the discussions and can use illustrations to emphasize the importance of accepting some failures along the path to success. Have the founders give examples of failures that they have overcome or discuss  a list of disappointments. Let them share their worst failures, their greatest risks, and their greatest achievements—all under an umbrella of overcoming defeat. 

    Many times the next gen hears only about the achievements, rather than sharing the dumb ideas, the total loss and the embarrassing “great idea” that failed. It is helpful to know even founders made mistakes.

    As Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

    Bea Wolper is a co-founder of the Conway Center for Family Business and serves as an Advisory Board member. She facilitates the Center’s Women in Family Business and Succession Planning Peer Groups. She is a partner in the law firm of Emens & Wolper LLP, in Columbus, Ohio. Her practice focuses on succession planning, estate planning, general corporate law, contracts and the buying and selling of businesses, with an emphasis on family-owned businesses. Wolper and her husband, Dick Emens, the Center’s Executive Director, co-authored Family Business Basics: The Guide to Family Business Financial Success.

  • Guest blog: Fast presentation fix #3: Say Dog, See Dog

    Posted on Aug 18, 2014

    Drive home your key points with vivid, powerful presentation visuals.


  • Handshake Foundation hosts "The Huddle" tonight at Vue

    Posted on Aug 14, 2014

    Help connect student athletes with business mentors and scholarship opportunities tonight at the Handshake Foundation's "Huddle." The fundraiser takes place from 5:30-7:30 this evening at Vue, 95 Liberty St, Columbus, OH 43215. Tickets for The Huddle are $100 and can be purchased online at EventBrite.

    More about the event and the Handshake Foundation:

    The Handshake Foundation, created by retired DSW CFO Doug Probst will host its inaugural fundraiser this Thursday at Vue. Named “The Huddle,” the event will feature nationally recognized author and speaker Dr. Kevin Elko,  who has been a consultant to seven BCS National Championship football teams, five NFL teams as well as numerous corporations including Morgan Stanley and Abbott Labs. The Huddle will also feature self-introductions by the 2014 Handshake Foundation student-athletes.

    The sponsors for the event are Big Lots, Deloitte, DSW and Summerfield Advertising.

    Founded in 2011, the Handshake Foundation is a combination mentorship and scholarship program that seeks to partner high school athletes with local business leaders. The program’s first year, students from three high schools took part (Gahanna Lincoln, Reynoldsburg and Whitehall Yearling). In 2013 that number grew to eight and in 2014, 16 area high schools are currently participating in the program.

    The genesis of The Handshake Foundation was an informal conversation between Probst and a professional baseball scout at a youth baseball game. When asked about what he looked for in prospects, the scout Joe Morlan, Sr. said “If he doesn’t give me a firm handshake and look me in the eye, I don’t even go to the game.”



  • New Ohio State president had short honeymoon period

    Posted on Aug 13, 2014


    Photo courtesy of The Ohio State University

    Ohio State University’s new president Michael Drake spoke before a capacity crowd at the  Columbus Metropolitan Club this afternoon, publicly addressing the firing of marching band director Jonathan Waters as a small protest band played OSU fight songs outside of the Columbus Athletic Club.

    “We made the difficult decision that new leadership was needed,” said Drake. “Based on the facts, we stand by that decision.”

    Drake says that the 23-page report issued by the University Office of Compliance and Integrity landed on his desk a few short weeks into his presidency. “There’s a honeymoon period,” quipped Drake, “and I didn’t feel like I quite got out of the church.”

    Drake called the report “disappointing,” adding that, based on the facts contained in the report, he would “not change my mind” or reinstate Waters.  “What we saw was a culture,” said Drake. That culture, he said, led to Waters’ firing rather than a suspension or other disciplinary action for the director or his subordinates.

    Drake did not meet personally with Waters during the firing process; Waters was dismissed by the provost of his department in keeping with the university’s chain of command, Drake said.  

    Drake asserted that he is ready to move the University and the band forward in the interest of students, OSU and the wider Columbus community. “We have to behave like the very best university in the world,” said Drake, generating applause from the audience of civic and business-community leaders.

    His first year as OSU’s 15th  president will include a number of milestones, including the 125th Buckeye football season, the 25th anniversary of the Wexner Center for the Arts and the opening of OSU’s newly expanded Wexner Medical Center and James Cancer Hospital in December.

    WOSU interviewer Mike Thompson asked about the medical center’s ability to compete with newly expanded OhioHealth and Mount Carmel Health System: “We compete with disease and suffering and ignorance,” answered Drake. Drake, a doctor whose experience includes 20-plus years as a professor at the UC San Francisco School of Medicine, said the challenge facing academic medical centers like OSU’s is the ability to “increase quality, accessibility and affordability of medical care.”

    Drake lauded the university’s strong partnerships with private industry and said it was among his goals to “reduce barriers to commercialization” of the research and development taking place on the OSU campus.  

  • Five Ways Brand Voice Enhances B2B Communication

    Posted on Aug 4, 2014


    No matter what business you’re in, your organization’s story of what you do, how you do it, and why it matters should be simple and compelling. This story is your brand, and one of the most important elements of your brand is the brand voice.

    Voice is not what a company says, but how a company says it. Too often, business-to-business companies assume business communications have to be emotionless. But every strong brand has a personality, and that shines through in every level of communication. Is the brand direct, focused, concise? Or is it conversational, clever, witty? How is the company communication structured? Through quick, factual sentences?  Or through stories, anecdotes, and quotes?

    Voice matters. And the more a B2B company can tap into understanding and creating its voice and make it consistent across all channels, the stronger that brand will be.

    Why does brand matter? Many B2B companies rely heavily on sales, as they should, but empowering salespeople with consistent tools to help their sales can create great alignment across any company. Personal relationships are an important part of sales, but with different associates telling different versions of a brand story, a fractured overall brand image can emerge. A consistent, and smart, story holds it together.

    Here are five ways how the right brand voice can enhance communication:

    Voice Simplifies

    Mastering a brand voice can allow important messages to stand out. When a company develops a brand-specific style of communicating, it can leave formal, standard, copy-heavy formats behind. That makes it easier for clients to dive into the information the company wants them to get out of the communication.

    Voice Makes Connections

    Voice can make the complex simple, for example, by using everyday terms instead of industry jargon. And that makes it easy for a client to understand and align with the brand instantly. The brand begins to talk with the client, not at the client. Remember, jargon isn’t code for smart. It’s code for unnecessarily complex.

    Voice Differentiates

    When a company develops its own unique style of communicating, you immediately set it apart from competitors. Clients will remember the brand for how clearly it communicates or how conversational it sounds.

    Voice Unifies Different Communication Pieces

    When a company communicates to customers in the same powerful way across mailings, collateral, digital experiences, and face-to-face meetings, they understand the brand and know what to expect. Time isn’t wasted on pouring through details and introductions. They become familiar with how the company communicates and expect the same communication style every time. That makes it easier for them to get the information they want.

    Voice Personifies the Brand

    Be sure the brand personality matches up with the brand voice. It’s the fastest way to make connections with customers. Instead of saying, “we’re direct and focused,” you can illustrate those parts of the personality in how the company communicates. And that creates an authentic brand experience.

    Bill Faust is Managing Partner & Chief Strategy Officer at Ologie. Reach him on Twitter: @williamfaust, or email:

  • DeWine dispatches investigators to monitor bottled-water pricing in Toledo

    Posted on Aug 4, 2014

    Reports of bottled-water price-gouging are popping up on social media and web forums from Toldeo-area residents following this weekend's algal-bloom pollution. This morning, the Ohio AG's office issued the following price-gouging primer with reporting info for consumers:

    Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today said that his office is actively monitoring possible price gouging complaints regarding bottled water as a result of Toledo’s water crisis. 

    “We have seen the best of many Ohioans who have generously helped those needing water in the Toledo area, but we also have heard allegations of possible price gouging in the area,” Attorney General DeWine said. “We are actively monitoring complaints related to the Toledo water crisis. Those who think they are overpaying for water should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office immediately and provide information about where the water was being sold and the price paid.” 

    The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is sending representatives to monitor water prices in the Toledo area.

    Laws that address price gouging vary from state to state. While Ohio does not have a statute that deals directly with price gouging, state law bans unconscionable sales practices. 

    A practice could be considered unconscionable if the supplier knew at the time of the transaction that the price was substantially higher than the price at which similar goods or services could be readily obtained. It is also an unfair and deceptive practice to dramatically increase the price of in-stock products based solely in response to current events. 

    Consumers who suspect price gouging or other unfair business practices should contact the Ohio Attorney General’s Office by calling 800-282-0515 or visiting Consumers should submit as much information and documentation as possible with their complaints.


    Posted on Aug 1, 2014

    Vorys' Jolie Havens photo


    The Affordable Care Act  has survived a barrage of judicial and political challenges, implementation failures, repeated
    delays, partial repeals, elections, and constant media scrutiny. Following last month’s conflicting Circuit Court decisions on the availability of marketplace subsidies, many employers are wondering whether this latest chapter in the ongoing saga of legal uncertainty may actually lead to the law’s undoing.

    On July 22, two federal appeals courts reached opposite conclusions on the ACA provision allowing individuals earning between 100 percent to 400 percent of the Federal Poverty Level to obtain subsidized health insurance through a Health Insurance Marketplace. At issue are four little words found in the ACA providing that subsidies are available through a marketplace “established by the state.” Only 16 states (and D.C.) currently operate their own marketplaces, with the rest, including Ohio, having a marketplace run by the federal government or in partnership with the federal government, also known as Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces.

    The D.C. Circuit first ruled 2-1 that the IRS lacks authority to allow subsidies in Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces because the language of the ACA unambiguously limits subsidies to state marketplaces. In contrast, the Fourth Circuit then ruled that the ACA’s language is ambiguous such that the IRS may allow the subsidies. Ohio employers are now asking whether this judicial split constitutes yet another reprieve from preparing for the ACA’s employer penalties looming large on the compliance horizon. It does not, at least not yet.   

    First, the D.C. Circuit decision is jurisdictionally limited and has not yet taken effect. Whether it will be upheld on appeal or gain broader acceptance is unknown.

    Second, broader implementation of the decision carries potentially massive consequences in states with Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces. Because employer penalties are triggered only when one or more full-time employees obtains subsidized marketplace coverage, elimination of subsidies in states with Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces would eliminate employers’ penalty exposure in those states. 

    While this outcome may be attractive to single-state employers, multi-state employers are likely faced with the same old headaches and perhaps a few new ones. Moreover, the taking of substantial subsidies from as many as five million enrolled individuals might cause even the most fervent strict constructionist to think long and hard. Further, broader implementation would, at the very least, partially nullify both the individual and employer mandates, calling into serious question the continued financial viability of the ACA. While opponents may not be sad to see “Obamacare” go, query whether the most celebrated aspects of the ACA—elimination of pre-existing condition limits, Medicare prescription drug savings and coverage for adult children—go, too.

    Third, both rulings have followed ideological lines, and the Obama administration has indicated the intent to appeal to the full panel of the D.C. Circuit, which is dominated by judges appointed by Democrats.

    Regardless of the ultimate result, time appears to be on the Obama administration’s side, and the penalties come into play for many employers in just a few months. Although the D.C. Circuit decision calls into question the law’s inevitability, employers should not delay or discontinue efforts to prepare for ACA penalties in all states in which they have employees (including those states with Federally-Facilitated Marketplaces).

    Has the ACA simply gone too far to be rolled-back now? Stay tuned.   

    Jolie Havens is a partner in the Columbus office of Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease and the chair of the firm’s health care group. She can be reached at (614) 464-5429 or at