Columbus has a spring in its step from more than just the Buckeyes.

Columbus has a spring in its step from more than just the Buckeyes.

Hey Columbus, are you walking a little taller these days? Do you nod with pride when new friends or business associates from out of town talk about what a well-kept secret Columbus is? Are words like "smart" and "hot" creeping into your conversation about the city overall and hip new urban neighborhoods?

And here's the big test-will you still feel good about Columbus no matter the outcome of the impending college football playoffs?

Especially for those of us who are natives, it has taken a long time to develop an unshakable civic pride for the Buckeye State's capital city. One sign of progress is how many are already dropping an apologetic "Ohio" after "Columbus" when a stranger asks where we're from.

Columbus residents with a broader perspective-those who have lived elsewhere and now choose to be here-are an even more reliable barometer for how Columbus truly measures up.

An expanding awareness that Columbus "is in a moment" was driven home recently by my boss, Dispatch Magazines Publisher Ray Paprocki, at a recent event to celebrate the 6th annual CEOs of the Year recognized by Columbus CEO with Capital University. Although a native, he had lived away from Columbus for three years and noticed the area's new-found confidence on his return last year.

The notion of Columbus' swagger-worthiness was echoed by Kenny McDonald as he accepted his CEO of the Year Award as chief economic officer of small nonprofit Columbus 2020.

McDonald has the requisite perspective of having lived elsewhere before being hired in 2010 to quarterback economic development in the Columbus region. More importantly, McDonald, his team and the many business, government and nonprofit partners Columbus 2020 engages daily are active ambassadors for possibility and potential in central Ohio. The success they are having as they encourage all manner of enterprises to locate and grow their businesses here is fuel for and testimony to the civic confidence we all exhibit in our increasing recognition that Columbus truly has something to swagger about.

Luckily, I didn't have to leave Columbus and return to see the progress being made in sectors such as education, logistics and retail, but my perception was broadened considerably by the vantage point of editing this magazine the past three years.

With Columbus CEO's focus on business and business leaders, I get to meet plenty of people who are growing the Columbus economy, who are having great success building creative concepts and who are using the region's location, reasonable cost of living, ease of navigation and a variety of leisure amenities to attract and hold talent from the coasts. Transplants are especially effusive in their praise.

Now the rest of the country is catching on.

Any doubt that Columbus is gathering accolades can be quickly dispelled by a look at the independent rankings noted on the Columbus 2020 website: Fastest-growing metro in the Midwest, No. 1 metro for job growth in the Midwest, No. 1 opportunity city in the US, most intelligent community in the world, No. 1 metro for wage growth in the US.

So yes, we like it when the Buckeyes win, but our civic pride is not as dependent on football championships as it once was.

Columbus today is not just about O-H, I-O. It's also a big OH-MY!