Friday, January 29, 2010

Group in wings to push regional development - Business First of Columbus:

Group in wings to push regional development - Business First of Columbus:

Central Ohio needs to do a better job of retaining businesses and selling itself as a technology center over the next decade, an effort that apparently will require another economic development organization.
That’s the prescription recommended for the region by the Columbus Partnership, an organization made up of 35 top business executives from the region.
Columbus Partnership CEO Alex Fischer laid out a plan for the newly proposed organization, to be dubbed Columbus2020, during a Wednesday meeting of the Columbus Metropolitan Club. Columbus2020’s goals will include helping the region become what Fischer called a top 10 economic-development community, creating 180,000 jobs, and increasing per capita income by 40 percent – all within the next 10 years.
“This is a new economic development paradigm,” Fischer said.
The thought for the new organization emerged last year after New York consultant McKinsey & Co. completed a study looking at best practices in economic development.
Fischer said McKinsey found the Columbus region didn’t invest as heavily in economic development initiatives as rivals Nashville, Tenn., and Austin, Texas. It also found the community needed to focus on retaining and expanding businesses, attracting new ones, creating companies and expanding the civic infrastructure.
The partnership then approached community representatives and economic development officials to get their thoughts, Fischer said. Assuming the community agrees to form a new economic development organization, Fischer said the partnership will take steps to help create it.
Fischer projected that a Columbus2020 team will be put in place over the next three months, money will be raised and vice president-level executives will be recruited and hired.
Fischer told Columbus Business First that the new organization would act as coordinator and clearinghouse for regional economic development efforts, although he said a structure for the group has yet to be finalized. Many in the region see the Columbus Partnership as a group of business executives with too much power and influence, Fischer said, so Columbus2020 would not operate under its direction.
Robert Milbourne, the partnership’s former CEO, told Business First in March that the group has become “more attentive to economic development in Columbus” as the economy deteriorated. But, he said, “We have several economic development organizations and there is often confusion about who is doing what. We contribute to the confusion, frankly.”
Fischer said the partnership plans to present more details about the plan during the ColumbusChamber’s annual meeting Feb. 24.
A Web site for the organization has been established at


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