"We need to lean into the creative culture that is really at the center of economic development. This is not just something nice to have—it's critical."

Future 50 Class of 2020

Brett Kaufman

Founder and CEO, Kaufman Development

About: Brett Kaufman left Schottenstein Real Estate Group as president to found Kaufman Development, a real estate firm creating some of Columbus’ most vibrant projects including Gravity in Franklinton, 250 High and the reimagined LeVeque Tower. His belief is that art and design play a central role in helping people live connected, self-actualized lives. The residences, offices and community spaces at Gravity reflect Kaufman’s core ethos of wellness, sustainability, innovation and philanthropy. The Bexley grad has been named Building Industry Association Developer of the Year, Ernst & Young Regional Entrepreneur of the Year, NAIOP Project of the Year and is the recipient of the ULI Project Excellence in Development Award. His company is a regular on Inc.’s list of 5,000 fastest-growing U.S. companies.

Outside work: Board member of the Columbus Partnership, Besa, KIPP Journey Academy, Community Shelter Board, Ohio State University, James Cancer Hospital, Children’s Hunger Alliance, Ronald McDonald House, Columbus Jewish Foundation, Columbus Jewish Day School, Greater Columbus Arts Council and Wexner Center for the Arts. Participant in Ohio State University & Harvard Young Leaders Program.

50 ideas to move the region forward. Here's who else is in the Future 50 Class of 2020.

What does Columbus need to thrive? “We need to lean into the creative culture that is really at the center of economic development. As a community, we must understand the direct correlation between design, architecture, placemaking, public art and meaningful content. This is not just something nice to have—it’s critical to attracting and retaining talent. And we must see it that way.”

Kaufman’s idea: “I would love to see us start a public mural and outdoor art festival that would paint the city, much like Wynwood in Miami, Crush Walls in Denver, Bright Walls in Michigan or other festivals that celebrate the public arts. I would love to see us as a community paint the city with beautiful murals and also engage the residents in neighborhoods that need support. We could get artists from around the world to paint the public spaces, but also paint homes all over Linden, The Hilltop and other areas to help uplift those individuals and neighborhoods. It would be amazing!”

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