There was a time when being lumped in with Hinesville, Ga., was not a good thing. And, truth be told, Hinesville might have thought the same about Columbus.
But the little burg by Fort Stewart must have been undergoing the same transformation Columbus has over the last quarter-century or so.
Georgia Trend magazine has listed Columbus as one of the state's top eight "renaissance cities" in its most recent issue.
"These eight downtowns are bustling with shops, restaurants, art and activity," the headline on the magazine's website declares.
Columbus is listed alphabetically with Blue Ridge, Dahlonega, Decatur, Hinesville, Roswell, Savannah and Statesboro. The cities are not ranked.
The section of the article describing Columbus mentions the RiverWalk, the RiverCenter, the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center, the Carson McCullers and Ma Rainey homes, whitewater, Columbus State University's downtown presence, and, of course, the renaissance downtown has seen over the past 20-plus years.
"We're experiencing a renaissance in business growth and quality of life," Mayor Teresa Tomlinson is quoted as saying. "Columbus has become this outdoorsy, hip place with sophisticated cultural attractions."
The article also points to Fort Benning, TSYS and Aflac providing jobs and a more stable economy than many cities enjoy.
"Columbus has gone from being a manufacturing and military town to a city that also has an international impact and tourism appeal," Tomlinson said. "These changes might surprise some people."