The Ohio state capital of Columbus will be the destination this week for more than 100 community and business leaders from Columbus, Phenix City and Macon, Ga.
“Columbus 2 Columbus” is the theme of sorts for the 20th annual Inter-City Leadership Conference that will see the local delegation depart bright and early Wednesday morning with the mission of exploring Ohio’s largest city. The group returns Friday afternoon.
“The larger cities typically have been there and done that, both good and bad,” said Mike Gaymon, president and chief executive officer of the Greater Columbus Georgia Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the yearly fact-finding jaunt.
“That’s part of why we go,” he said Monday. “We want to learn what has worked and what hasn’t worked. And ask them: If you had to do it all over again, what would you do differently?”
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Columbus, Ohio, is home to Ohio State University, its largest employer with nearly 30,000 on the payroll. Its Columbus campus is home to more than 56,000 students.
Other major employers include the city, state and federal governments, JPMorgan Chase, Ohio Health, Nationwide Insurance, Honda of America, Kroger, Limited Brands, Huntington Bancshares and Cardinal Health.
With a city population of about 787,000, the Ohio metropolis is roughly four times that of Columbus, Ga. The Ohio community is located in the middle of the state, founded in 1812 where the Scioto and Olentangy rivers come together.
Topics and issues to be explored on the journey, Gaymon said, are Columbus, Ohio’s 66 redevelopment districts, with the local group hoping to see how they work best and their impact on that city.
“They’re currently doing a 140-acre development along their river,” he said. “Of course, that’s where we’re looking now with what’s next for our riverfront development and so forth. We think that can be other lessons learned — what works, what didn’t work.”
The Georgians and Alabamians also will discuss the topic of a junior high school set up on the campus of Ohio State. It’s geared toward students focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
There also will be time to look at the Ohio city’s performing arts high school, which is tied to career development, Gaymon said. One element of that requires students to maintain at least a C average to remain in the school that allows them to sing, dance and perform.
The development of a large conference hotel also will be on the table, he said, with Columbus, Ohio, having built a 500-room Hilton in its downtown. It was funded through county-floated bonds, he said.
Gaymon noted this is the first year that a sizeable contingent of residents from Macon — a dozen of them — have formally participated in the inter-city visit. Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, City Manager Isaiah Hugley and three Columbus councilors also will be on the trip.
“We will be able to learn a lot from what Macon’s doing or what they’re not doing,” the chamber chief said. “So there will be opportunities for cross-fertilization of ideas and thoughts.”
Last year, the Inter-City Leadership Conference was in Oklahoma City, Okla. Its first stop in 1994 was in Charlotte, N.C.
WHERE THEY'VE BEEN
Here are the major cities Columbus community and business people have visited since the inception of the Inter-City Leadership Conference:
2012 — Oklahoma City, Okla.
2011 — Charlotte, N.C.
2010 — Raleigh, N.C.
2009 — Mobile, Ala.
2008 — Fort Worth, Texas
2007 — Tampa, Fla.
2006 — Baltimore
2005 — St. Louis
2004 — San Antonio
2003 — Indianapolis
2002 — Kansas City, Mo.
2001 — Louisville, Ky.
2000 — Richmond, Va.
1999 — Austin, Texas
1998 — Nashville, Tenn.
1997 — Memphis, Tenn.
1996 — Jacksonville, Fla.
1995 — Greenville, S.C.
1994 — Charlotte, N.C.