I attended the second annual GLUE (Great Lakes Urban Exchange) conference hosted in Milwaukee in March on behalf of Columbus. I also met fellow Columbus native, Kelley Beck, there.
The GLUE conference is a gathering of young urbanists who are passionate about their Great Lakes city. Attendees from Cleveland, Toledo, Detroit, Buffalo, Flint, Ann Arbor, Chicago, St. Louis, just to name a few, were in full force. We gathered to discuss how can tell the great stories of our mega-region, most often referred to as post-industrial or rust-belt cities.
One of the conference speakers, Carol Coletta, the CEO of CEOs for Cities, made a very salient point about developing, attracting and retaining talent. She stated that increasing college attainment should be your city’s top priority for economic development. “If you give me one statistic and only one statistic, I can tell you if a city is successful,” she said. “The only thing I need to know is the percentage of college graduates.” Well, thank goodness, Columbus as a collective unit is headed in the right direction to develop, attract and retain talent! If you aren’t familiar with how we are doing so, check out Columbus Internships, Live Work Play Columbus, and the Chamber's workforce initiative.
Columbus is making strides in many areas such as development. Some exciting development projects underway or near completion include Lifestyle Communities - The Annex in the RiverSouth District, The Scioto Mile, Columbus Clippers at Huntington Park and Grange Insurance Audubon Center. Columbus is also continuing to work on one category: options for public transportation. Many other GLUE cities have a public transportation other than buses, such as Cleveland’s Rapid Transit or Detroit’s People Mover, and Milwaukee is getting their downtown streetcar soon; however, it seems all GLUE cities have a more efficient transportation system on their city’s wish list.
Carol also offered “no one ever gives you a seat at the table; you have to take it.” I am seeking other Columbus advocates and dot connectors to get involved with GLUE. I am offering you a seat at the table to help us determine opportunities with our city. Please, be my guest!