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Columbus, Ohio, USA (2014)
Top7 Intelligent Community of 2014
Published Thursday, January 23, 2014 7:00 am

Back to Top7:  Year    Population     Region

The capital of the state of Ohio, Columbus combines great strengths with significant challenges.  It is the home of two multi-billion-dollar institutions: Ohio State University (OSU), one of America’s largest research universities, and Battelle, the world’s biggest private research institute.  Fifteen of America’s largest companies make their home there, as do award-winning museums, science centers and libraries.  Multiple commercial broadband providers serve the metropolitan area, and public-sector networks provide government and academia with even more advanced capabilities.  But OSU lags nearly all of its peers in commercialization income and patents per research dollar.  The city has a large low-income population stranded by the decline of manufacturing employment and ranks 46th out of the 50 largest American cities for upward social mobility.  Per-capita income has declined over the past decade and unemployment, while below the US average, is a fact of life for too many citizens, while companies struggle to find properly-qualified workers to fill open positions.

Attacking these challenges through broad and deep collaboration has been the priority of Mayor Michael Coleman.  Programs include the Columbus Partnership,  an association of the CEOs of the city’s largest organizations.  It develops strategy and engages stakeholders in civic improvement projects from downtown development to education and healthcare.  Another partnership, TechColumbus, offers startup acceleration, business mentoring, seed funding and capital attraction.  OSU has moved to address its weakness in commercialization with a US$35 million venture fund, raised jointly with Ohio University, to turn research successes into new companies. 

The city has worked to fight poverty and exclusion with programs including Capital Kids, which provides after-school digital literacy programs for students K-12, and APPS, which works to give at-risk youth positive alternatives to being on the street.  The public schools, community colleges and universities of Columbus collaborate actively to increase access to STEM education and reduce barriers that make it difficult for low-income students to complete higher education.  These efforts are bearing results: a Brookings Institution study identified Columbus as one of the few American cities whose population of young college graduates increased from 2007 to 2009. Over the last decade, the city has seen a 30% decline in low-skilled manufacturing employment but a 36% increase in higher-skilled education and healthcare employment.  In 2013, US employment was still 25% down from the previous high, but Columbus had 20,000 more jobs than at the last economic peak.







Columbus In Brief


Labor Force

217 sq. miles

Top Industries
Government, professional & business services, education & health, retail.

Broadband Penetration
80% household, 82% business, 100% govt, education & nonprofit 99%.

Degrees Awarded
Community college 2,222; undergrad 13,770; graduate 5,332

3-Year Job Creation
381,232 (79,713 net), 51,210 depending on ICT

More Online

City of Columbus


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