Summer School

June 18, 2012

They used to say that the famous UNLV basketball coach Jerry (The Shark) Tarkanian knew every high school basketball coach in the country and had sat down for a pitcher of beer and chicken wings with most of them.  He was a tremendous recruiter and hard to beat because of these relationships, but mostly he did it because he loved to hang out with basketball coaches and he loved to talk, eat and breathe basketball.  I feel that same way about my chosen profession of economic development.

I just returned from a short economic development conference in St. Louis.  Each time I am able to attend one of our national conferences I am fascinated by the people who “practice” economic development.  They are passionate about their profession and constantly learning on the job.  They control very little and are responsible for a lot.  They’re paid to know a lot about their communities, their economies, and how to get things done in their area.  They move things forward through collaboration, facilitation, and sometimes pure will.

This summer our team is helping to conduct a series of meetings in order to complete a Comprehensive Economic Development Plan (CED’s) for the 11-county Columbus Region.  This project will ultimately lead to a formal designation for the region from the Economic Development Administration (we hope), which will be a step forward for our region.  This, however, may be only one of the positive outcomes of the exercise.

Our team will conduct over 12 facilitated meetings across our region with the professional economic development organizations in the area.  We will meet with boards and commissions throughout the region over the next 8 weeks to gain feedback, provide information, and get to know the challenges and opportunities facing our communities and economic base.  Their feedback, intimate knowledge of their local communities and vision for what can be accomplished is inspiring and imminently useful.

Our team is simultaneously holding a series of leadership briefings for existing and new private sector investors in the One Columbus regional growth strategy. The dialogue between our team and business leaders engaged in economic development is another important way we are gaining perspective and adjusting our tactics within our program of work.

A delegation of business and public leaders will also travel to Washington D.C. this week to discuss our region’s economic development priorities and gain insight from Ohio’s federal leaders. The relationships gained through traveling together to carry the region’s message are also a critical component of this effort.

The One Columbus team will also gather women business leaders from the region in late June to learn about their wonderful contributions to our business community, and to brainstorm about ways in which we can leverage the great diversity the region possesses.

All of these important gatherings – and the hundreds of individual meetings our team has in the course of its everyday business leads us to One Columbus’s 2 annual Regional Economic Development Dialogue event to be held on September 11, 2012 at the Ohio Union. This half-day event offers our public/private investors a critical voice in improving our tactics, adjusting our strategy, and addresses our many challenges and opportunities at the speed of the market. We look forward to a summer of engagement, dialogue, and learning as we strengthen and improve the economy throughout Central Ohio.

One Columbus Update

Last week our team met with a number of Ohio based site location advisors in the Cleveland Market area, and this week the team will be participating in the eyefortransport 3PL Summit in Chicago, meeting with site location advisors and company decision makers. One of our Existing Business staff members attended an “economic gardening” conference last week, returning to Ohio with insights into stimulating economic development without the use of incentives.

Based on current activity levels, we expect the summer to remain busy, an indication that confidence in the economy continues to strengthen. Existing business interviews through midyear are yielding consistent hiring expectations with 52% of companies reporting plans to hire.

The Columbus Region’s business attraction and business expansion efforts have led to a robust pipeline of projects.  Next week our team will provide an update of the types of projects we are seeing and what is driving investment decisions in today’s economy. The Pipeline Report will take place on Wednesday, June 27, from 3:30pm-5:30pm at A&R Music Bar located at 391 Neil Avenue, in the Arena District. To reserve your place, please RSVP to Becky Blatt at or 614-225-6067 before June 22.

–Kenny McDonald