Intelligent Community Forum Names Columbus, Ohio, USA 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year

Former Taichung mayor and Foreign Minister Dr. Jason Hu named Visionary of Year at 20th Anniversary of Intelligent Community Movement

(June 11, 2015 – Toronto, ON, Canada & New York City, NY, USA) – Declaring that the rebirth of the American Midwest was in full view for the world to see, the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF) today named Columbus, Ohio, USA as the 2015 Intelligent Community of the Year at a dinner ceremony in the spectacular Arcadian Court in downtown Toronto, Canada host city for the global awards program. The awards ceremony was the conclusion of the Intelligent Community Forum’s annual Summit. Columbus succeeds Toronto as the think-tank’s annual Intelligent Community of the Year. Dr. Jason Hu, the three-time mayor of Taichung and nation’s former Foreign Minister was given the group’s prestigious Visionary of the Year award. Dr. Hu gave the Keynote address.

For Columbus and its Mayor, Michael Coleman, the award was a culmination of work that has been underway for nearly 15 years. The capital city of Ohio had reached the finals of the ICF’s Awards program three times before. It was hoping for the breakthrough in 2015. An international jury and research company gave it to the city, which ICF’s founders said has a relentless embrace of new ideas. The award was accepted for Columbus by Mayor Coleman. Coleman is the longest-serving mayor in the city’s history. The three founders of the Intelligent Community Forum presented the Award along with Mayor Rob van Gijzel of Eindhoven, The Netherlands, who serves as chairman of the ICF Foundation. Columbus is the fourth American city to capture ICF’s top honor, and the first since 2012 (Riverside, California, USA). LaGrange, Georgia was named in 2000 and New York City earned the top spot in 2001.

“All of the Top7 communities this year have been building model Intelligent Communities," said co-founder Lou Zacharilla. “After three years in the Top7, however, Columbus clearly demonstrated that planning and performance have made it a place with ‘an inner go.’ It is a revolutionary community in the truest sense. Mayor Michael Coleman and the citizens of that great town are leading Ohio, the USA and the Intelligent Community movement from an industrial economy to a knowledge-based one.” Zacharilla added that Columbus has a solid broadband infrastructure, effective research institutions and a local government that has perfected the art of enabling each of its knowledge assets to collaborate. “But they know,” he added, “that there is still work to be done in Columbus. However the direction is impressively forward.”

Columbus was selected after a year-long evaluation that included a quantitative analysis of extensive data, site inspections by the Intelligent Community Forum, and votes from an international jury made up of experts from around the world. Communities in the Awards program are evaluated based on five Intelligent Community Indicators, or criteria,and a sixth criteria, the ICF’s annual theme, The Revolutionary Community is added to the evaluation process.

ICF praised Columbus for programs such as TechColumbus, the cultural revitalization of the East Franklinton neighborhood, initiatives to make higher education more accessible for low income residents and for its regional approach to economic development with surrounding communities including former Top7 Intelligent Community, Dublin, Ohio.

During the Summit, which began on June 8 and concludes on June 12 with ICF Canada and IBM hosting an “Ideas Day,” there was networking, business exchanges, master classes and onstage conversations with each of the seven finalists for the ICF Award.

The Forum also presented its 2015 Visionary of the Year Award to Dr. Chih-Chiang (Jason) Hu, currently Vice Chairman of the Want Want Group and a former three-term mayor of the city of Taichung. Dr. Hu was introduced by Bruce Linghu, the representative of the Taiwan Economic and Cultural Office (TECO) of Canada. During his introduction, Ambassador Linghu noted that Dr. Hu had also headed the nation’s TECO organization during his distinguished career. The Intelligent Community Visionary of the Year Award is presented to an individual or organization that has taken a leadership role in promoting broadband technology and applications as an essential and transformative human utility, and whose work has had global impact on the entire Intelligent Community movement. Dr. Hu was cited for his decades of work but specifically his role as Taichung mayor, where he transformed the “Mechanical Kingdom” of Asia into a high-tech, creative hub that is both the third largest exporter of precision machinery and, with Asia’s largest new opera house, a cultural center. Read more about the 2015 Visionary of the Year, Dr. Chih-Chiang (Jason) Hu here.

The Intelligent Community Forum is an independent think-tank and presented the awards as part of its annual Summit. The Summit was held outside of New York for the first time since 2003. ICF returned to Toronto where the movement was born 20 years ago during the founders’ first event, “Smart ’95.” The ICF Summit was attended by 500 thought leaders from around the world, including the world’s 2015 Top7 Intelligent Communities and previous Intelligent Communities of the Year, including New York, Calgary, Waterloo, Toronto, Eindhoven, Taipei and Taichung. The event was produced in association with ICF Canada and host city partners Waterfront Toronto, the City of Toronto, Invest Toronto and a number of sponsoring organizations. Mayors, city managers, CIOs, and executives of leading technology companies from around the world, as well as academics, economic developers and urban planners, are part of the Intelligent Community movement and participated in the five-day Summit (

Intelligent Community of the Year 2015 Snapshot: Columbus, Ohio, USA
Columbus is a city of sharp contrasts. The capital of the state of Ohio, it has the highest metropolitan concentration of Fortune 1000 companies in America and is the home of the research school Ohio State University (OSU) and Battelle, the world’s biggest private research institute. But the city also has a large, low-income population stranded by the decline of low-skilled factory employment and is ranked 46th out of the 50 largest US cities for upward mobility. As a result, average per-capita income trails America’s and its employers struggle to find qualified staff while unemployment and low-wage jobs afflict too many citizens.

Municipal Broadband Attracts Competitors
Columbus attacked these challenges on multiple fronts and through collaboration among government, education, business and institutions. It is also leading a regional approach to economic development with surrounding communities including former Top7 Dublin. The collaboration plays out in broadband, where the partners have interconnected their fiber networks supporting schools and universities, hospitals, research institutes and government facilities. This continuing investment in advanced broadband has helped attract multiple competing commercial providers as well as enabling a unified traffic management system and mobile solutions for the city workforce including first responders.

Educators meanwhile are collaborating to improve the chance that low-income students can afford higher education and also succeed at it. The Central Ohio Compact unites K-12, community college and undergraduate institutions to guide low-income students into higher education. Preferred Pathway is one program that guarantees community college graduates a university placement, which lets them turn their 2-year degree into a 4-year degree at a fraction of the normal cost. City government supports this effort with programs including Capital Kids, which provides after-school digital literacy programs for K-12 students, and APPS, which works to give at-risk youth positive alternatives to being on the street, including computer labs funded by Microsoft.

From Brain Drain to Brain Gain
Another partnership, TechColumbus, offers startup acceleration, business mentoring, seed funding and capital attraction. Its First Customer program helps young companies generate their first revenue from established companies in the region.

The East Franklinton neighborhood was once the heart of a vibrant African-American cultural scene and Mayor Coleman has made its revitalization a personal crusade. A community-based planning effort has created a vision for building residential, retail and creative space as well as a business incubator, and private investment has already converted an abandoned warehouse into a performance and studio space supplemented by an art gallery, coffee shop and farmer’s market. Grant funding is going into the development of a makerspace and community workshop. The city’s Neighborhood Pride program has generated wide support from the small business community and Nationwide Children’s Hospital has become a partner in residential home refurbishment in neighborhoods within its geographical orbit.

This range of programs is having measurable impact. Columbus is now one of a handful of US metros that turned a brain drain in 2005-2007 into brain gain in 2007-2009. Employment growth in skilled manufacturing has exceeded 35% over the past decade. In 2008 it was named the #1 “Up and Coming Digital City” by America’s Forbes Magazine and byby 2013, Columbus had been named one of the top 10 cities in the US for new college grads.

About the Intelligent Community Forum
The Intelligent Community Forum (, headquartered in New York, is a global movement of 134 cities, towns and regions. As an international think tank and Foundation, ICF studies and promotes the best practices of the world's Intelligent Communities as they adapt to the new demands and seize the opportunities presented by information and communications technology (ICT). To help cities and towns build prosperous economies, solve social problems and enrich local cultures, the Intelligent Community Forum conducts research, hosts global events, publishes books, and produces its high-profile annual international awards program. The Forum has two Institutes in North America dedicated to the study of the movement, with more institutes planned. Global leaders, thinkers, and media observers follow and participate in the ongoing global dialogue initiated by the Intelligent Community Forum. In 2012 ICF was invited to participate at the Nobel Peace Prize conference in Oslo and in 2014, its model and work was recognized by the U.S. Department of Commerce under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act, which, according to the American government, was "aimed at creating a more flexible and responsive system of workforce development to meet the needs of employers looking to fill 21st century jobs.” The Forum’s Foundation has an association made up of 134 designated Intelligent Communities worldwide, which is represented by mayors and key civic leaders. For more information, go to For more details on the Intelligent Community Forum’s recent publications and programs,

Intelligent Community Forum Contacts
Matthew Owen
Director of Operations
Intelligent Community Forum
Phone: +1 646-291-6166 (x105) -
Email: [email protected]
Twitter: @Newcommunities

Matthew Owen
Director of Operations, Intelligent Community Forum

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