Columbus, Ohio. Photo shot by Derek Jensen (Tysto), 2006-01-23
Columbus Ohio was one of the twenty locations chosen by AMAZON on January 18, 2018 as a candidate for HQ2 out of a total of 238 proposals received from the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Up to 50,000 high-paying jobs and an investment of over $5 billion will be the ultimate prize for the metropolitan area finally chosen as the companies second headquarters in North America.
Columbus Ohio was founded in 1812 at the confluence of the Olentangy and Scioto rivers, and became the state capital of Ohio in 1816. The city is named for explorer Christopher Columbus and is the 3rd largest city in the Midwest.
How does a company with more than 380,000 employees worldwide choose a second headquarters home?
- AMAZON prefers that its second home to be in a metropolitan area with more than one million people.
Franklin County had an estimated 2016 population of 1.3 million. In addition, out of the six largest counties in Ohio, Franklin County is the only one that has grown in population over the past 16 years. The population in Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Lucas, Montgomery and Summit Counties have all decreased considerably during that period.
- AMAZON prefers a stable and business-friendly environment for its second home.
In addition to the five Fortune 500 companies that are headquartered in the Columbus area: Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company, American Electric Power, L Brands, Big Lots and Cardinal Health, there are also more than 300 corporate managing offices, including 15 Fortune 1000 companies with corporate headquarters in the area.
Wendy’s Donato’s Pizza, Bob Evans, Max and Erma’s, White Castle, Red Roof Inn, Rogue Fitness, and Satellite are also based in the area.
The world’s largest private research and development foundation, Battelle Memorial Institute, is in Columbus. The world’s largest clearinghouse of chemical information, Chemical Abstracts Service, is in Columbus. The world’s largest fractional ownership jet aircraft fleet, NetJets, is in Columbus and one of the largest universities in the United States, Ohio State University, is also located in Columbus.
- AMAZON prefers urban or suburban locations with the potential to attract and retain strong technical talent.
According to 2016 estimates (2012-2016) from the Census Bureau, 88.8 percent of Columbus residents over age 25 have a high school diploma, while 34.8 percent have a Bachelor’s degree or higher. In addition to Ohio State there are 15 other 4-year universities located within 40 miles.
Columbus not only currently has the supply of technical talent required by AMAZON it has an unlimited supply of future talent.
The items AMAZON lists as preferences are straightforward and simple and Columbus Ohio meets, or exceeds the AMAZON preferences hands down and has something for everyone currently living in the metropolitan area, or will be in the future.
Columbus OH was the only U.S. city named one of the world’s most intelligent communities in 2013 by the Intelligent Community Forum think tank.
Transportation in and out of the area:
- Columbus Ohio has ready access to Interstate 70 running east-west near Cove Fort, UT to Baltimore MD while Interstate 71 runs north-south from the Great Lakes to Louisville KY.
- John Glenn Columbus International Airport is located approximately 6 miles east of downtown Columbus and is readily accessible to out of town travelers via COTA AirConnect, which runs from John Glenn Columbus International Airport to downtown Columbus stopping at the Greater Columbus Convention Center as well as many downtown hotels.
CAR2GO is an on-demand network of 200 Smart cars providing service to Easton, Downtown, the Ohio State University and John Glenn Columbus International Airport. CAR2GO is a great service for taking one-way trips to your destination as you may leave the vehicle in any legal parking spot within the Home area, with parking, fuel and insurance included in your fee.
For travelers preferring UBER or LYFT forms of transportation, both are available.
- If you’re looking for a more leisurely form of transportation try the free on-demand Hopper Carts that provide eco-friendly, electric, rides to your favorite local places. If you have children, they will surely enjoy getting around the downtown area via FREERIDE. FREERIDE utilizes street-legal, open-air golf carts serving the downtown Columbus area for free. Simply hail one as you would a taxi.
- We all know how important exercise is in your daily routine and CoGo Bike Share makes it possible with their public transportation system of 365 bikes located at 46 stations throughout downtown Columbus. These bikes are available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
- Enjoy bike rides, but don’t want to use up all that energy peddling? Try E.C.T. Pedicab for an enjoyable ride in a bike taxi. Pedicabs are in operation most nights of the week in downtown Columbus.
- What Columbus does not have is light rail or train service. This may prove to be an advantage, because if AMAZON does choose Columbus as the new HQ2 home, this could be the perfect opportunity to build new state-of-the-art facilities.
Central Ohio Transit Authority provides numerous transportation services to residents and visitors alike.
Columbus is especially interested in meeting the needs of visitors to the area. Should you have any questions at all, look for the gold star pin worn by the Greater Columbus Certified Tourism Ambassadors. These individuals are certified and trained to assist you with whatever you may need.
Now that we have the transportation problem solved, what can you hope to see in the Columbus metropolitan area?
North Market is the last remaining public market in Columbus and has more than 1 million guests per year enjoying their ethnic food specialties, ice cream, popcorn, coffee and pastries.
The Gallery Hop, located at the Short North Art District’s galleries and boutiques has been described by Huffington Post as the “Best art event in Ohio”.
German Village is a 233-acre historic residential district, with visitor center, and one of the well-known historic districts in the United States.
You will also want to visit the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, COSI, an excellent science center with more than 300 interactive exhibits, Franklin Park Conservatory and Botanical Gardens, the only botanical garden in the world with a permanent collection of glass artwork by Dale Chihuly, and Easton a leading shopping, dining, and entertainment area in the Midwest.
Those of you that enjoy a little gambling may want to visit Eldorado Scioto Downs, Video Lottery Terminal gaming and harness horse racing, or Hollywood Casino Columbus a Vegas-style casino with more than 2,200 slot machines, 70 table games and 36 live poker tables in addition to excellent dining.
The Scioto Mile has 33 new acres of parkland in downtown Columbus with miles of trails from Bicentennial Plaza to North Bank Park. Free concerts in the summer are hosted by Bicentennial Park which features an enormous set of fountains for children to play in during daylight hours.
Scioto Audubon Metropark nature center and birding area, contains the largest free climbing wall in the country.
Whether you prefer ballet, opera, plays or musical performances Columbus has it all in their Theater District. The Palace, The Ohio, The South, The Lincoln, as well as others provide performances you will not want to miss, along with The Wexner Center for the Arts and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra.
Shadowbox Live, is the largest resident theatre company in America and offers sketch comedy, live rock ‘n roll, dance theater, and much more.
Interested in breweries? Columbus has a total of six small breweries located in the Brewery District.
Shopping: Columbus is the headquarters for fashion giants L. Brands, Express, DSW and Abercrombie & Fitch, in addition, to having the third highest concentration of fashion designers in America.
Tiffany & Co., Nordstrom, Louis Vuitton are all located close to Columbus in addition to Cabela’s, Ikea and Tanger Outlets, an outlet mall with more than 90 name brands.
If you’re a sports fan look no further. Columbus is the home of the Big Ten OSU Buckeyes. What is a buckeye? It comes from the official state tree of Ohio, the Buckeye tree, and is a small, shiny, dark brown nut with a light tan patch. The Buckeye nut looks like the eye of a deer and according to folklore, carrying one brings good luck.
Without a doubt, the Buckeyes have had good luck through the years. It is one of only five universities winning a NCAA national championship in baseball and men’s basketball and recognized as a national champion in football as well as winning national championships in other sports arenas.
Richard E Walrath, former Budget Analyst, Ohio State University contributed to this article.