An Olympic Economic Development Debate

February 17, 2014

The greatest competition associated with the Olympic Games may actually take place before a single race is run or game is played. Leaders around the world intensely compete to host the Olympics in an effort to showcase the progress and strength of their countries. While this has been true for a very long time, it’s never been quite as expensive as it is today. It is estimated that Russia has spent nearly $50 billion, and the summer Olympics in Beijing and London also cost tens of billions of dollars.

Though expensive, the Olympics do bring economic development and notoriety to host cities and countries. Hosting major events and developing signature assets are positive activities for the economy and can create much needed awareness of host cities and nations. Many assets are long lasting and beneficial to an entire city and country, including major infrastructure. Sometimes the costs of the goal outweigh benefits and do little to improve quality of life in host markets. Because costs of these developments don’t always equal their value, few places can pursue an event as grand as the Olympics.

So what is the lesson from the debate that Sochi has caused? That whether to pursue such events should always be predicated on an overall strategy for the area. If the event and the related costs to host it can serve that strategy and the community in the long-term, then pursuit is an easy choice.

Kenny McDonald

One Columbus Update

  • Our team is back from Toronto, where we executed a productive business development mission. We also attended the Corporate Venturing & Innovation Partnering Conference to promote the Columbus Region to corporate investment and innovation partners.
  • Last week, One Columbus released the Q4 2013 Economic Update . Highlights of the report include a decrease in unemployment, an increase in logistics jobs, a strengthened housing market and an increase in project activity.