From a burgeoning business start-up sector to a flourishing social scene, Columbus is moving forward—fast! While there are certainly things that Cap City could work on, a bit of foresight and long-term planning is setting our city up for progress and success.
Here are three major areas in which Columbus has made tremendous improvements over the past decade:
1. Revitalization, Development and Expansion of Urban Real Estate
Recently, Columbus has been attracting a whole new demographic. Our affordable cost of living, stable economy and great quality of life make us a desirable destination for young people– the very people that are driving the improvement in this city. These are a few of the ways we have seen expansion and development.
For years, Downtown Columbus was mediocre at best, absolutely crappy at worst. A decade ago, the area by the Scioto River was devoid of life. Abandoned buildings, old rail yards and a former state penitentiary were all the area had to offer. That was until Nationwide Realty Investors set their eyes on the plot. Along with other investors, the company sunk $750 million into developing what we now know as the Arena District – a bevy of restaurants, offices, entertainment venues and housing. Since 2008, the project has brought many businesses and residents into the area. Now, the Arena District is highly sought after by Columbusites wishing to live in an urban environment.
The Short North
The Short North comes from similar beginnings. Once thought of as a rough and forgotten part of town, in the 1990s the district started to see a surge in artists and a gay community due to its unique historical background.
The city soon noticed that something amazing was happening here. The strip began to attract more visitors which inspired businesses to start moving in fast. Fast forward to 2015, the Short North is now the cultural and artistic epicenter of Columbus, if not the entire state of Ohio.
“You have to create not just a building,” said Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman, “but an environment.” This mantra has been adopted by the city at large. The Brewery District, East of OSU’s campus and Downtown and are all receiving similar makeovers to revitalization.
2. Retail Powerhouse and Fashion Forward
With a mix of retail giants, clothing boutiques and shopping destinations, Central Ohio has created a name for itself within the fashion world. This popularity has made retail spending an important part of tourism dollars, making up 24 percent in 2011.
Columbus has become a strong leader in retail as home to several of the 50 most valuable retail brands in the U.S. This fact has made Cap City a mecca for fashion forwardness. Big brands like Victoria Secret, Abercrombie & Fitch, Bath and Body Works, Express and DSW are all based here, and play a significant role in making Columbus a vibrant city.
With a slew of local boutiques for clothing and décor, the entrepreneurial spirit thrives in Columbus as well. Areas like the Short North and small suburbs around the city draw in a variety of unique small businesses that contribute to Columbus’ fashion scene. But we also have some huge shopping epicenters like Easton and Polaris that draw in a variety of luxury retailers, restaurants and multi-floor department stores.
With a flourishing and vast shopping scene, Columbus has surely stamped itself as a hot destination spot in Ohio and nationally.
3. Sustainability and Green Living
Clean streets, fresh air and beautiful landscapes make for some high-quality living, and Columbus is privy to this fact. That’s why over the past decade, Cap City has put a lot of effort into sustainability and green living. Since we aren’t plagued by a ton of smog-producing factories mucking up the skies, our approach has been strictly proactive.
Change starts at a ground level, but it certainly helps to have administrative support. Get Green Columbus is a city-wide initiative established by Mayor Coleman in 2005 to focus on transportation, growth & development, education & engagement, energy, business, green-space and green building in Columbus. The success of this program is due to its integration of economic and ecological incentives. The ultimate goal is to create a healthy environment in which people want to live, work and raise a family—and that is something that everyone can get behind.
Even some of Columbus’ largest organizations and business are on board with it. For instance, the Ohio State University spearheaded the Zero Waste program at Ohio Stadium to divert 90% or more of materials from landfills by recycling and composting. In 2014, the stadium landfilled 1.95 tons (compared to 5.8 tons in 2013) with the diversion rate of 98.68%. That’s huge!
Columbus’ aim to encourage sustainable, green living is why our city had the notable opportunity to host the 2012 Eco Summit, which brought together “the world’s most respected minds in ecological science to discuss restoring the planet’s ecosystem.” 1600 delegates from 75 countries were in attendance for the conference, and this successful turnout was a nice show of global recognition for Cap City’s Eco-mission.
With the support of the city and many of the businesses and organizations that make it up—we are headed in the right direction with sustainability and eco-friendliness.
In the past decade, Cap City has undergone some major renovations. We’ve made leaps and bounds in our push towards sustainability, expanded and diversified our job market and revitalized key urban neighborhoods. Where will this progress lead us in the next ten years? No one knows for certain, but the future is bright.
Great job Columbus, your efforts are finally paying off!