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Three from Columbus are on Georgia Trend ’40 Under 40’ list of state’s best

New MidTown, Inc. director sees the six-square mile neighborhood as a microcosm of the city

In one minute, new MidTown, Inc, Executive Director Julio Portillo presents an brief overview of the city's midtown district
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In one minute, new MidTown, Inc, Executive Director Julio Portillo presents an brief overview of the city's midtown district

Georgia Trend’s annual “40 Under 40” list is out for 2018, with three Columbus-area residents honored by the magazine, one even appearing on the cover.

The list, now in its 22nd year, puts the spotlight on top up-and-comers from across Georgia who have yet to reach the age of 40. Honorees include those in business, government, education, health care, banking, pro sports and nonprofit organizations.

Those locally among this year’s honorees — which Georgia Trend said were decided from more than 300 nominees — Julio Portillo, Natalie Brooke Higgins and Trent Davidson.

Portillo, 37, appears on the cover of the October issue with three others highlighted by “40 Under 40.” The former transportation planner for the River Valley Regional Commission took the job of executive director at MidTown Inc. earlier this year. The latter organization is a proponent for the city’s central core neighborhoods and commercial areas.

“I tell my students not to focus so much on money. It can buy you a lot of things, but it runs out,” Portillo, also a public policy adjunct professor at Columbus State University, told Georgia Trend. “But the feeling that you get from helping others, especially those in need and communities in need, and the impact that you can have on the quality of life of other people, are things that you can take with you forever.”

Higgins, 29, is an assistant professor of music and director of Columbus State University’s Schwob Horns ensemble. Her educational activities include offering free music classes to high school students, while also creating a YouTube channel as a resource for both high school and undergraduate music majors. She also launched the Schwob Summer Music Festival this summer for students who play wind, brass and percussion instruments.

“Classical music is somewhat daunting, especially to young students. My goal is to inspire the next generation,” Higgins told Georgia Trend.

Davidson, 32, is franchise sales manager with Buffalo Rock, a food and beverage distributor in Columbus and Albany, Ga. His community and outreach efforts include serving on the boards of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and The Anchorage, which is a faith-based ministry that offers assistance to men addicted to alcohol and drugs.

“Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care,” Davidson said to Georgia Trend. “I look at business as a platform for us to help people along in the bigger picture.”

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