Civic Center Director Ross Horner selected to lead Uptown Columbus, BID

Ross Horner has been director of the Civic Center since 2011.
Ross Horner has been director of the Civic Center since 2011. mhaskey@ledger-enquirer.com

Columbus Civic Center Director Ross Horner has been selected to lead two critical downtown nonprofit organizations, according to the chairman of the search committee that selected him.

Horner, who has been Civic Center director for five years, replaces Richard Bishop as president of Uptown Columbus Inc. and the Business Improvement District. Bishop, 66, informed the boards of Uptown and the BID in June of his retirement plans and an immediate search ensued.

Reynolds Bickerstaff, chairman of the Uptown Inc. board and head of the search committee that hired Horner, said there was a talented pool of applicants, but Horner stood out.

“It came down to five people who were interviewed by the committee,” Bickerstaff said. “Every one of them was incredibly qualified, but Ross’ experience in event management set him apart.”

Horner said it was a great opportunity.

“I am excited,” he said. “This opportunity has only come about because of the hard work Richard Bishop and many others have done.”

Horner referred all other questions to the Uptown Inc., and BID boards. The organizations are planning an event later this month to introduce Horner.

Uptown Inc., funded in part by the city, event income and private contributions from corporations, individuals and foundations, focuses on the economic development of downtown. The BID, as it is commonly called, is funded by an additional tax levied on downtown property owners. It focuses on safety and cleanliness. Both organizations are involved in marketing downtown and promoting events to attract people to the area.

Uptown Inc. promotes a series of free concerts in the downtown area.

“We scored the candidates and Ross scored huge in event management and the process was heavily weighted toward that,” Bickerstaff said. “We are trying to take events to a higher level and both of the boards agree with that.”

Horner has been charged with booking the Civic Center events and scored a huge victory earlier this year when he brought Elton John to the venue. The March concert was a sell out.

Horner is a North Dakota native who has worked for about 25 years. Prior to coming to Columbus in 2011, Horner was director of marketing at booking at the Bismark (N.D.) Civic Center. He also worked at the Carver Community Cultural Center in San Antonio, Texas, where he was marketing and public relations director.

Horner is making $90,676 in his current job, according to city records. Terms of the deal with Uptown Inc. and the BID are not yet available.

Bishop was hired as president of Uptown Inc. in September 2005, leaving the job of deputy city manager of Columbus that he had held the previous four years. Uptown Inc. and the Business Improvement District had split during a political struggle prior to Bishop’s hiring. Along with the respective boards, he helped bring the two organizations back under one umbrella in 2008.

Like Horner, Bishop came to Uptown Inc. from the Columbus Consolidated Government, where he had been deputy city manager. Bishop’s retirement is not effective until June 30, 2017. The plan is to have Bishop work with the new person in a variety of roles until that time.

Mayor Teresa Tomlinson said Horner will be a loss for the city, but she is pleased he is remaining in Columbus.

“We will be working closely with him in his new role at Uptown as it is a major partner of ours,” Tomlinson said. “Ross brought a great deal of innovation and energy to the city and we know our citizens will continue to benefit from his talents.”

Staff writer Mike Owen contributed to this report.