When you get a bunch of CEOs together on a regular basis like the Columbus Partnership does, conversations spark projects beyond the meeting agenda.

The Columbus Partnership started with a handful of CEOs—12—who gathered on a regular basis to talk about how they could work together to make the region better, more prosperous, more attractive. Since that time, its membership has expanded greatly, to 76 members as of this writing, and that's made it stronger, says Alex Fischer, the group's CEO. “We are so much more impactful to have the diversity of opinions around the table we have today than we had back then,” he says.

Like the region, the Partnership is in constant transition, evolving with every meeting, adjusting to address the issues of the day as they come into being. The group has a purposeful way of going about its economic development work, to be sure.

“We always come back to the work of the Partnership, focusing where we believe CEOs can have the biggest impact, and that is driving economic growth, economic prosperity,” Fischer says. “Ours is the table where economic development focus occurs. When you convene for that, then you convene a lot of individuals who have a lot of individual interest in this issue.”

You also convene a lot of individuals who have broader interests, and conversations spark ideas that extend beyond economic development. “There is a constant helping one another,” he says. “Sometimes that can become very organized, and sometimes it can be as simple as relationships that develop around this Partnership table.”

The stories you'll find in this package (linked below, along with a gallery of the six covers), which represents our annual Columbus Partnership issue, have their foundations in the sparks that fly, CEO to CEO. We hope you'll find inspiration in their passion projects.

In WonderBus, a thriving CAS brings ‘festival with a cause’ to its lawn

Sandy Doyle-Ahern’s YWCA passion project is equitable access to opportunity

Melanie Corn’s neighborhood: Social justice, art and a challenge for Columbus’ corporate community

Cameron Mitchell’s vision a ‘game-changer’ for Columbus State culinary program

Lou Von Thaer connecting kids like him to STEM through COSI Science Festival

At Greif, Pete Watson’s heart is in rallying to fight disease

Katy Smith is the editor of Columbus CEO.