Welcome to Future 50, a special project we’ve launched this year at Columbus CEO. This inaugural class has everything going for it. A fresh new decade, full of promise; wild smarts and talent; and the guts and hearts to carry out bold ideas that make everyone’s lives better.

On the pages of a special 13th issue of Columbus CEO we produced for Future 50, you’ll meet a diverse group of people who have what it takes to help make Columbus the great American city of the next century. They count among them a scientist who has dedicated her life to curing cancer; a university president who’s upending the traditional college model; an attorney who travels the region in the JusticeMobile helping people who can’t afford legal advice; and transportation planners, tech entrepreneurs, social justice champions, design gurus and more. What can’t they accomplish?

In their applications, which were evaluated by Dispatch Magazines leaders, we asked this vibrant group two core questions: As the Columbus region prepares to welcome 1 million additional people by 2050, as projected by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, what do we need to thrive? Then, we asked them to offer an idea for an Annual Project the 50 could do within one year to create meaningful change in the community. The project, which will be chosen by the 50 at a gathering in January, should embody the Future 50 core values—achievement, altruism, boldness, creativity and inclusivity. I can’t wait to see what they come up with.

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

In this special 13th issue of the magazine, you’ll find beautiful portraits of the class members taken by our photographers, Tim Johnson and Rob Hardin, laid into a compelling, smart design by art director Yogesh Chaudhary, who created the Future 50 logo. Many thanks for their hard work and creativity. And our gratitude goes to class member Brett Kaufman, who offered use of his space at Gravity, his Franklinton development that brings together art, community and intentional living, for the photo shoot. It was a perfect fit.

If you’d like to be involved in the 2021 class of Future 50, applications will be available at columbusceo.com beginning this spring. It is our intention for the Future 50 class of 2020 to choose the members of the next class.

Future 50 is all about ideas that bring forth a vision of the future, so here’s mine: Imagine traveling in a computer-driven car down East Broad Street Downtown, passing underneath a canopy of shade trees, your space bathed in dapples of green leaf-light. On either side of the boulevard, people from diverse backgrounds are out walking, families pass by on bicycles, and gardens joyfully spill over tidy sidewalks. The serene summer setting seems effortless considering the advanced technology woven into every aspect of the scene: Your car, the road, the bicycles, and the collar on every dog are in constant contact, ensuring everyone stays safe. The plantings sport water conservation systems. Slim, whisper-quiet electric railcars, or perhaps buses, glide past in lanes safely away from pedestrians. Passengers from as far as Georgesville Road to the west and Hamilton Road to the east relax on their commutes, drinking coffee in durable personal containers and reading the news of the day on solar devices.

This vision of Broad Street simultaneously recalls the past and conjures the future. Broad Street once was a narrower, pedestrian-friendly boulevard lush with greenery, a stark contrast to what it is now: eight lanes of vehicles traveling at 40 and sometimes 45 mph past crumbling sidewalks, a dangerous place to ride a bicycle and an inhospitable one to traverse on foot. Many thoughtful plans have been crafted to bring back Broad Street’s so-called “parkway” arrangement, as it was in the 1921 photo with this story, but for budgetary and other reasons lost to time, nothing has been acted upon.

But wouldn’t it be wonderful if it was?

Katy Smith is editor of Columbus CEO.

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