Columbus 2025 started last year as an effort to reduce poverty, increase prosperity and create a better quality of life for residents of the Chattahoochee Valley.
On Tuesday, community partners involved in the five-year initiative, coordinated by the Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce, gathered at Green Island Hills for a project update.
Columbus 2025 Board Chair Billy Blanchard said a lot had been accomplished in 2017 and the goals already set for 2018. He emphasized the five action areas: Targeted Economic Growth; An Enterprising Culture; Talented Educated People; A Cohesive Image and Identity; and Vibrant and Connected Places.
Sitting on a panel to update the community on each category were Action Chairs Jacki Lowe, Russ Carreker, Peter Bowden and Betsy Covington. Blanchard served as moderator.
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So what are the plans for 2018? Here’s a list of Action Items for each category:
Targeted Economic Growth:
▪ Assist existing companies in expansion to create jobs and capital investment through Business Connect, a business retention and expansion program.
▪ Support efforts to recruit and locate companies and institutions that align with Fort Benning’s robust robotics initiatives.
▪ Develop a convention hotel close to Columbus Trade and Convention Center to meet demand and generate business.
▪ Promote key community initiatives such as Choose Columbus, Success Ready and Ignite Columbus to enhance ongoing efforts to strengthen the region’s economic vitality.
An Enterprising Culture:
▪ Launch StartupColumbusGA.com and a physical location, #WeDoAmazingStartUps!
▪ Engage a diverse and inclusive set of start-ups and pre-venture founders interested in producing innovation-led, high growth potential, exportable products and services.
▪ Work closely with Fort Benning to create opportunities for local entrepreneurs and suppliers to grow with Fort Benning, like the Georgia Defense Exchange.
▪ Activate the local investment community and establish a dedicated local investment fund by recruiting and developing a bullpen of successful business people and leaders to act as start-up mentors and potential investors.
▪ Collaborate with local event promoters to include start-up and entrepreneurial components at upcoming events like the Bob Wright Business Empowerment Symposium, Creative South, Way Down Film Festival and STEAMul8!
Talented Educated People:
▪ Aid childcare providers to become Quality Rated for improved kindergarten readiness.
▪ Support the creation of MCSD’s college and career academy.
▪ Develop a cohesive approach to developing soft skills needed for local employers.
▪ Develop a talent retention strategy.
▪ Host an event for private and nonprofit sectors to explore underemployment in the state.
▪ Create additional internship opportunities for students and educators.
▪ Develop a Talent Coalition with representation from all major employers in the area.
A Cohesive Image and Identity:
▪ Build local advocacy and support to be led by Image by Design.
▪ Launch a social media campaign to tell “amazing stories.”
▪ Publish and distribute Ambassador Kit to stakeholders.
▪ Market and brand through website, brochures, social media and merchandise.
▪ Create an internal marketing campaign.
▪ Engage the community in branding efforts.
▪ Revisit signage programs for creating a sense of place.
Vibrant and Connected Places:
▪ Encourage continued improvements along the Second Avenue corridor.
▪ Continue the Wynnton Streetscape Project to connect with neighborhoods on both sides of the road and restore a beautiful thoroughfare in the heart of the community.
▪ Work with local governments to develop new metrics to measure leaders’ ability to foster healthier communities and contribute to the national discussion.
▪ Complete the first two segments of the Dragonfly Trail.
▪ Partner with the Georgia Department of Transportation as part of the planned Spur 22 resurfacing project to incorporate safer pedestrian crossings at several Midtown intersections.