Columbus is poised to be one of the great cities in our nation. One thing that could help get us there is the acquisition of a $40 million Smart City Grant, and thanks to city leaders Columbus is a finalist to get these funds.
In 2015 alone we have been ranked in national media as the number one “opportunity city,” “fastest growing metro area,” “fastest metro for job growth in the Midwest,” and “intelligent community” and we were ranked third in “best cities for millennials.”
We are a great city, however, even great cities have areas for improvement. For Columbus this area is transportation and that’s why the Smart City Grant opportunity is so exciting, and the Arts Council has been pleased to participate in the process.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to see new public transportation initiatives in Columbus, but here’s what is really interesting: This grant isn’t just about finding ways to create new transportation opportunities, it’s about creating smarter transportation opportunities—as a smart and open community we are the perfect city to redefine how our country looks at transportation.
When it comes to transportation systems that move people we are practically a blank canvas. We have COTA, Car2Go, CoGo and have been making improvements to bike lanes on city streets, but we do not have any large infrastructure (e.g. tracks or underground subway systems) that we have to retrofit into a new plan. We are in a perfect position to start fresh and use data, technology and creativity to develop a revolutionary transportation solution.
Over that last 15 years we have built up the population living in the city’s core and developed our walkable neighborhoods. And, as I noted above our metro area has grown in terms of population and jobs –which means that we have an intelligent community hungry for a smart transportation solution.
The Smart City Grant, however, is not just focused on getting people from point A to point B. This grant would help us build our strength as a national logistics hub by optimizing the movement and delivery of freight.
Columbus has, especially in the last two decades, worked very strategically to stop the “brain drain” from our colleges and universities. Improvements to core city living such as more diverse arts and cultural opportunities, green spaces, and amenities along with increased job opportunities in creative and technological fields have made us attractive to millennials and earned us a “City of the Future” accolade from fDI Magazine.
Improving our transportation systems is the next step and with the Smart City Grant we can not only take that step but we can position Columbus, a connected and collaborative community, to be a model of efficient, advance and smart transportation.
— Tom Katzenmeyer, Keep up with Tom’s adventures on Twitter: @tomkatzenmeyer