Columbus 2020 is on track to exceed economic development goals

Mary Yost

With Columbus proper and Franklin County at its core, the Columbus Region is the vibrant metropolis ringed on its outskirts by a combination of suburban, exurban and semirural counties. They include the contiguous counties of Delaware, Licking, Fairfield, Pickaway, Madison and Union along with more northern counties of Logan, Marion, Morrow and Knox.

The Columbus Region is the area embraced and served by Columbus 2020, which works to generate opportunity and build capacity for economic growth.

Columbus 2020 is one outgrowth of an initiative begun in 2010, when community and business leaders from throughout central Ohio pooled their hopes, dreams and aspirations for what the area could become in 10 years.

As a result of those discussions, four specific goals were delineated for the Columbus Region by 2020:

    1. Add 150,000 net new jobs
    2. Increase per capita income by 30 percent
    3. Add $8 billionin capital investment
    4. Be recognized as a national leader in economic development

Less than halfway through the decade, the Columbus Region is situated well to meet, if not surpass, these goals.

As of July 2014,this goal is more than halfway complete with 95,813 jobs having been createdin the Columbus Region since 2010. That is a big jump since Columbus 2020's 2013 annual report, which notes just 50,424 new jobs had been created, so growth in recent months has been especially robust.

Reaching nearly 64 percent of the goal this early in the process bodes well for exceeding the 150,000 target.

At the time this goal was set in 2010, the per capital income in the Columbus Region was $38,346. The target is to boost per capita income to $48,995 by 2020. Based on U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis data, which lags about 18 months, the Columbus Region saw growth of 11 percent through December 2012, when per capita income had risen to about $42,500.

An even brighter picture is seen in the 2013 annual report, which notes jobs that were added or retained as a result of 215 new economic development projects that year had a per capita income of $50,356-or more than 30 percent higher than the 2010 baseline.

With a goal of bringing in $8 billion in capital investment by 2020, the Columbus Region had reached more than 50 percent of that target as of July. By that date, $4.33 billion had been invested in the area. The growth has been steady, with the 2013 year-end report showing investments by then had totaled $3.71 billion.

Progress on this goal may be a bit harder to measure, but there are plenty of indications the Columbus Region is already known as a national leader in economic development. A few of the accolades already received include:

Columbus 2020 won gold and silver medals for High Performance Economic Development in 2013 and 2012, respectively, from Denver-based Atlas Advertising. The medals are for creating more jobs than other organizations of its size.

The Columbus Region was named a Top 10 Metro Area for 2013 in Site Selection magazine's annual list of top regions for corporate facility location.

Columbus was recognized in 2013 and 2014 as one of the world's seven smartest communities by Intelligent Community Forum. Winners are deemed role models for the world's best practices in creating competitive local economies and vibrant societies in a hyper-competitive global economy.

Columbus ranked second among the nation's 10 best cities for young job seekers in 2013 by the Georgetown Center on Education and the Workforce. The ranking is based on a young adult employment rate of77.7% and young adult population of 254,878, among other factors.

Gallup ranked Columbus second among the nation's top 50 metros for job creation in 2013, with 43 percent of 1,200 workers surveyed saying their employers were hiring.