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.
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.