There are endless opinions about what makes a good CEO. Many of the successful ones share some common characteristics, as all good leaders do. Some are entrepreneurial. All are growth-minded. They keep a close eye on finances, but also on the role their employees play in their success. They believe in giving back to the community. Yet they're not afraid to make the tough decisions needed to keep their organization on track.

For the first time, Columbus C.E.O. and Capital University have partnered on a new CEO of the Year project. We wanted to learn more about the Central Ohio business climate, how the economy is affecting local companies and what C-level executives think of the region as a place to do business.

The Capital University School of Management and Leadership mailed the 2011 Central Ohio CEO Survey to more than 3,000 top officers in businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout the region. We asked industry executives to give us their opinions in five business climate categories: the economic outlook, their organization, company practices, perceptions of the Central Ohio area, and leadership issues.

We also asked them to nominate their peers for 2011 CEO of the Year honors in four categories: large for-profit (more than 500 employees for manufacturers, more than 100 for wholesalers or at least $7 million in annual receipts for most other companies), small for-profit, large nonprofit (more than $4 million in average annual gross receipts) and small nonprofit.

Winners were unveiled Nov. 3 at an invitation-only reception at the Ohio Statehouse, where survey results also were debuted.

Reprinted from the December 2011 issue of Columbus C.E.O. Copyright © Columbus C.E.O.