Long gone are the days when people regularly saddled Columbus with the derisive label of “Cowtown.”

Today, the Columbus Region is experiencing a boom in economic development and is at the top of the list of hot spots for brawny national businesses like Amazon or IBM, both of which have committed to major investments here, says Bill Ebbing, president of the New Albany Company.

“Central Ohio has clearly had success bringing companies to the region,” he says. “With the recent announcements of Amazon and IBM, it’s a great opportunity to showcase the region as the next Silicon Valley.”

Online retailer Amazon has announced a $1.1 billion investment would be made in New Albany, Dublin and Hilliard over three years. And IBM opened a Client Center for Advanced Analytics at Tuttle Crossing in 2012. There have been other successes attracting outside businesses here, too.

“We are strong believers in the ongoing opportunity to bring additional mission-critical companies to the region and specifically to New Albany,” Ebbing says. “An even greater opportunity exists for growing the businesses that are located here in the region already.”

The New Albany Company, a community developer focused on economic development and quality of life for the neighborhood, has certainly done its part. Its first home in the area was built in 1991 and the International Business Park was started in 1998, since attracting more than 8 million square feet of development on more than 3,000 acres, providing jobs for 14,000 people.

And the Village Center, which includes Market Square, an arts center, school campus and retail, business and government offices, along with the 55,000-square-foot Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany, has also been critical to the economic growth and development in the area. Work continues in the center, Ebbing says.

“It’s the heart and soul of the community. It continues to be a focus and we are expanding the mixed-use nature of the center,” he says. “One of our strengths is our commitment to a master plan to develop the quality of life here for residents, employees and for businesses to locate here.”

Continued development in New Albany and the Columbus Region relies on the collaborative nature of groups like Columbus 2020 and JobsOhio and public-private partnerships, Ebbing says.

“Each partner brings different strengths to the table, providing a formula necessary to close deals like Amazon Web Services,” he says.

The New Albany Company itself is “pretty lean,” with 10 employees who work primarily on planning and design with various consultants, Ebbing says.

Besides the solid collaborative aspects of the region, other keys to continue economic development success will be investments and planning for infrastructure from Downtown to the Outerbelt and a persistency in telling the story of the region, he says.

“Private entities and developers must spend more time planning for growth, which is valued by businesses who want to locate here or grow their business,” Ebbing says. “We are now on the national stage and competitive on a very large scale. We need to keep telling that story nationally and internationally.”

By TC Brown
Columbus CEO