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Columbus Global Connect

Columbus Global Connect is a trade and investment plan to help assure that the Columbus Region has a central place in the world economy, with strong links to both established and emerging markets.


Columbus Global Connect is a result of the Columbus Region's participation in the Global Cities Initiative (GCI), a joint project of the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase, and the Global Cities Exchange. GCI aims to help the leaders of metropolitan America strengthen their regional economies by becoming more competitive in the global marketplace.

An important element of GCI is the Global Cities Exchange, a learning and action network of 28 U.S. metros that are developing and implementing regional export and foreign direct investment strategies to boost global trade and investment. Metros, including the Columbus Region, were chosen through a competitive application process based on demonstration of readiness, capability and commitment to advancing international business efforts.

In April 2014, Columbus Global Connect, Part I: Metropolitan Export Initiative was published. The new Columbus Global Connect, published in January 2015, updates and supersedes the 2014 report.


Opportunities abound for the Columbus Region to accelerate export and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) growth. Currently, more than 450 foreign-owned firms employ over 54,000 in the Region—and that number keeps growing. In fact, export-supported jobs accounted for 27 percent of employment growth from 2003 to 2013 and the Columbus Region's exports increased 61 percent between 2003 and 2013, from $7 billion to $11.3 billion.

While international trade and investment are growing components of the regional economy, the Columbus Region lags in various export and FDI measures. In 2013, the Columbus metro area ranked No. 37 among U.S. metros for export value, below its GDP rank of No. 31. The Region's FDI share of employment was 5.3 percent in both 1991 and 2011, while the U.S. share grew from 4.6 percent to 5.4 percent during the same period.


Become one of the top 25 metropolitan areas in export value by 2020 Increase FDI pipeline from 40 percent share of active projects to a 50 percent share by 2020
Generate 50 referrals annually to introduce current exporters and ready-to-export companies to export-related services Diversify FDI from 40 percent non-Japanese share of FDI announcements

Achieving the objectives and strategies of Columbus Global Connect will directly contribute to the Region's economic growth goals.

Add 150,000 net new jobs Grow jobs
Increase per capita income by 30 percent Grow high-paying jobs
Attract $8 billion in capital investment Grow investment by both domestic and foreign firms
Be recognized as a national leader in economic development Grow awareness of the Columbus Region in a global economic context

Findings, strategies and implementation plan

Detailed market assessments for exports and Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) were conducted using data from Brookings, Columbus 2020 and other sources. That data was supplemented with information collected directly from companies in the Region, including 135 companies for the exports market assessment and 28 foreign-owned companies for the FDI market assessment.

Key Finding 1: Exports and FDI support high-quality job creation

Key Finding 2: The Columbus Region has underperformed in exports and FDI

Key Finding 3: Regional exports and FDI are concentrated by both market and industry

Key Finding 4: Mergers and acquisitions are a major source of FDI

Key Finding 5: Networks and relationships matter

Key Finding 6: Exporters and FDI companies face a range of business challenges

Key Finding 7: Fragmented service delivery limits export growth

Key Finding 8: Foreign Direct Investment often leads to exports in the long term

Key Finding 9: Companies are willing to engage around issues related to growth and competitiveness

Download the full report (PDF) for details on key findings, international business strategies and tactics, and the implementation plan.

Connect With Us

Managing Director, Global Trade and Investment
President and Chief Economic Officer
Managing Director, Research and Business Intelligence
Project Manager, Global Trade and Investment

Full Report

Columbus Global Connect (PDF)Read the full Columbus Global Connect, from background and objectives to detailed key findings, strategies and tactics and implementation plan.

More Information

Dozens of resources exist to help companies begin or better their exporting potential, from business planning and financing to trade missions and shipping.

Columbus Region Export Resources

Recent News

View all Columbus Region exports and FDI news

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