The Columbus, Ohio, region is not only a manufacturing hub (manufacturing represents nearly 20 percent of the work force in nine of 11 counties) but is also an “Intelligent Community,” as noted by The Intelligent Community Forum (ICF).
“The Top 7 communities of 2013 have made innovation — based on information and communications technology — the cornerstone of their economies and fostered economic growth through high-quality employment, while increasing the quality of life of their citizens,” said Lou Zacharilla, ICF co-founder.
In fact, Columbus is the only U.S. city on the ICF’s Top 7 Intelligent Communities for 2013. One reason Columbus made the ICF list is employment growth — “adding 15,000 net new jobs while much of the rest of the state has struggled with industrial decline and home foreclosures,” said ICF. In fact, the Columbus region saw a “dramatic rise in job openings for advanced manufacturing, automation, electronics, robotics, and industrial design,” the group added.
Being the state capital has also helped Columbus, as has collaboration among city government, academic institutions, businesses, and nonprofits. The ICF finds that although the government there reduced spending during the recession, it nevertheless invested in work force development to meet the needs of advanced manufacturing, logistics, and information technology companies.
In fact, a public-private venture called TechColumbus is working effectively to leverage the region’s research and technology assets into startup companies. And, Ohio State University has re-energized its technology transfer office and holds monthly forums for entrepreneurs, while joining forces with Ohio University to create a venture capital fund.
Columbus is also reaching out to neighboring municipalities to collaborate on building a broadband ecosystem serving the entire region. The ICF reports it is one of the few old industrial regions to reverse a “brain drain” and show net in-migration for the first time in decades.
The 2013 Intelligent Community of the Year will be named at a Summit in June from the seven finalists, otherwise known at the Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year: Columbus, Ohio, USA; Oulu, Finland; Stratford, Ontario, Canada; Taichung City, Taiwan; Tallinn, Estonia; Taoyuan County, Taiwan