Columbus 2020 and the Rise of Smaller Smart Cities

Source: Machine Design on August 12, 2017 | Carlos Gonzalez

Smart-city programs are popping up all over the United States. As we economize the Internet of Things and technology becomes more affordable, cities are taking advantage of the tech boom and looking to instill new programs in their infrastructure. While much of the focus may go to major cities like New York or Los Angeles, medium-sized to smaller cities are actually leading the charge.

A recent survey by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the analytics firm IHS Markit revealed that 30% of existing smart-city projects are occurring in small cities with residents of 150,000 or less. The survey concluded that smaller and medium-sized cities may have an easier time implementing new technology. These cities may be more motivated to attract interested companies to be their test beds to bringing investment capital and encourage job growth.

One such city is Columbus, Ohio, which was recognized as the Intelligent Community of the Year by the Intelligent Community Foundation. Columbus is the 14th largest city in the U.S. and through public and private sector partnerships, Columbus 2020 was launched to serve “as the economic development organization for the 11-county Columbus Region, working in partnership with state and local partners to generate opportunity and build capacity for economic growth.” The goals which are to be met by the year 2020 are:

  • Add 150,000 net new jobs
  • Generate $8 billion of capital investment
  • Raise personal per capita income by 30%
  • Earn recognition as a leader in economic development

The services provided by Columbus 2020 for qualified companies identify programs available for investment and arrange meetings with leaders in the public sector, private sector, academia, and local economic development organizations. The organization also helps with market research, which includes demographic information, workforce analysis and customized data, acquiring land or property for research, and help foreign and domestic companies to increase exports.

The Columbus region is home to a labor force of more than 1million workers and 33% of those workers are graduates with bachelor’s degrees. There are 59 colleges and universities in the Columbus region and in particular, Ohio State University is a main location for innovating applied research for product design, technology commerce, and manufacturing. Its program, the Center for Design and Manufacturing Excellence, works directly with manufacturers to identify and execute growth strategies.

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