Packed audiences are turning out to hear from central Ohio's most interesting and influential business and community leaders.

Some 150 years ago, it was common for people to attend lectures in their communities. In cities and in frontier towns, issues of the day were presented and debated by passionate speakers who rode a circuit to share their particular point of view-often as proponents or opponents of concepts such as abolition and slavery or states' rights versus federalism. These lectures were popular for the social interaction they provided as well as the information they imparted.

So in today's world of live Tweets, 24-hour news cycles and instant response to Google searches, are such events archaic? Not if you witness the response to several new offerings in Columbus.

Packed audiences are turning out for the CEO Insights series sponsored by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with Columbus CEO and WBNS-TV. And the New Albany Community Foundation's inaugural Jefferson Series attracted more than 700 people on a snowy evening when schools and businesses had been closed for the day. They showed up to hear billionaire investor T. Boone Pickens and L Brands founder Les Wexner talk with retired AEP CEO Mike Morris. The iconic presenters provided perspectives on oil policy, Washington inertia, the women's apparel industry and their own amazing life journeys.

Upcoming events are sure to be just as popular. The CEO Insights series had Cardinal Health CEO George Barrett on tap for March, and Mindset Digital CEO Pamela Springer is lined up for July. And the next Jefferson Series lecture will feature Pulitzer Prize-winning author Doris Kearns Goodwin in May and former U.S. Senator and astronaut John Glenn in June. Heads up-the Doris Kearns Goodwin tickets will sell out quickly when they go on sale April 2.

Modern technology and a fascination with electronic communication apparently has not yet replaced our desire for experiencing interesting people firsthand and gaining unfiltered access to their views. See for upcoming speakers of note or to post your events.

When you can't get there in person, rely on Columbus CEO to continue to bring you Q&A features with some of central Ohio's most interesting and influential business and community leaders, including NetJets CEO Jordan Hansell in this issue.

Speaking of getting there-how is your commute these days? Assistant Editor Kitty McConnell takes a look this month at what Columbus' projected growth in jobs and population could mean for getting to and from work. The option most of us employ-driving ourselves-might be bearable today, but what about with the congestion to come? Mayor Michael Coleman has been talking forever about mass transit options, but none have gotten off the starting line. Is the day coming when others will get on board?

And Columbus job growth doesn't just happen. It takes effort from many quarters. Columbus is especially blessed to have strong support for tech-focused new business development, but whether enough is happening on the non-tech side is a matter of some debate.

Columbus CEO engaged a new contributing writer this month, Jeff Bell, to talk with business and community leaders about the new laser focus TechColumbus has applied to its work with worthy startups. Bell, retired from an award-winning stint as a writer at Columbus Business First, also talked with regional economics guru Bill Lafayette and others about low national rankings for Columbus' progress in boosting development of small businesses.

Remember the statewide Medical Corridor initiative announced in 2012 by Gov. John Kasich? One of four main pillars was to be the Medical Cloud. In researching locally developed technology for this month's Health Watch feature on radiology, freelance writer Kristin Campbell learned the cloud initiative fizzled out last year. Rob Nichols, the governor's spokesperson, says, "We continue to make great progress on the Medical Corridor, and if at some point there's a renewed interest in the cloud initiative, we'll be happy to bring everyone back to the table again."

Thanks for reading!