“Your life is like a play with several acts. Some of the characters who enter have short roles to play, others, much larger. But all of them are necessary; otherwise, they wouldn’t be in the play. Embrace them all, and move on to the next act.”
It takes a lot of ingredients for a community to be successful. Our region hosts a half day forum each year with hundreds of allies from around our 11-county metro area. We discuss trends, challenges and our individual and collective ambitions. We invite an inclusive group of urban, suburban and rural leaders including elected officials, government managers, school board members, workforce partners, venture capitalists, corporate CEOs, small business owners, transportation and housing officials, public policy and civic advocates and higher education leaders. It truly is a cast of characters and it is GREAT! They may come as staunch advocates, skeptics of certain aspects of economic development, or merely as an interested party – but what is most important is that they come and that they engage.
This year, we were joined by Ohio’s Governor-elect Mike DeWine for one of his first economic development addresses before he officially takes office next month. We heard from Les Wexner, a business icon that grew up in the Columbus Region that has become one of the most successful Fortune 500 company CEOs in the world. Both gave some perspective of an Ohio and a Columbus from the past and each looked forward with optimism for what’s possible in the future. We shared comparative data that shows where we are succeeding and where we have work to do to improve.
As we finalize this decade and a plan we’ve called Columbus 2020, this cast of characters is the secret ingredient in not only developing another ambitious plan, but also in executing it. We know the next decade will pose great opportunities and great challenges. And it is comforting to know that as an economic development community, we have an army of informed, engaged partners to face them together.