In 2000, the city of Columbus faced an uncertain future. Like most of Ohio, it was part of the “Rust Belt,” describing a manufacturing economy that had been decimated by globalization. It had plenty of strengths as the state capital, home of two major universities and the world’s largest private research institute. This enabled the city to outperform other Ohio cities – but only by remaining stagnant economically while they were declining.

Determine to make the city’s many assets live up to their potential, Columbus attacked its challenges on multiple fronts. It led formation of the Columbus Partnership, a collaboration among government, education, business and institutions. The Central Ohio Compact among educational institutions began working to remove the barriers keeping residents from higher education. Another partnership, Tech Columbus, provided support and seed funding for entrepreneurship.

From 2000 to 2017, Columbus added almost 400,000 people to its population and nearly 164,000 new jobs to the region. The region has attracted data centers, a new Intel semiconductor plant and the largest solar manufacturing facility in central Ohio. The city is home to one of the Midwest’s largest venture capital funds and a workforce in which 36 percent have a higher education degree. With rust firmly in its past, Columbus is now working hard to manage the challenges that come with economic success.

How did Columbus do it? Find out.

How have other communities learned to accelerate?


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