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A Bright Future for Columbus, Ohio & The Midwest?

Walker Evans Walker Evans
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Over the past week, several news articles and editorials have been pointing toward positive trends taking place in the Midwest in terms of job growth and economic resurgence. Granted, many Midwest cities have hit an all time low point, so any small amount of growth is good news, but for a non-rustbelt city like Columbus, that hasn’t suffered quite as much during the economic recession, these regional trends could mean a whole lot more.

An article from ZDNet.com (“Detroit, Midwest lead in IT job growth“) provides a look at IT job statistics nationwide that paints a pretty positive picture of the Midwest. Columbus is #4 on the list with 57% growth over last year, with Detroit, Cincinnati and Cleveland topping the list. Pittsburgh and Chicago also make an appearance, helping the Midwest to dominate the Top 10.

“The fact that Midwestern cities lead the list of this month’s tech job growth areas reflects a resurgent economy that is lifting the region’s traditional manufacturing base,” said article author Joe McKendrick. “Silicon Valley also ranks 10th in terms of year-to-year growth, suggesting that IT opportunities are more geographically disperse than in previous times.”

An article from The Huffington Post (“Will The Midwest Become The Next Silicon Valley?“) showcases how several Midwest cities are leveraging their strengths to boost entrepreneurialism, attract venture capital, and grow new jobs. Ohio is mentioned multiple times as a state leading the way with public investment programs and the creation of business incubators.

“The rise of high-growth entrepreneurship and supportive ecosystems are not paint-by-numbers prescriptive,” says article author Ray Leach. “Just as Silicon Valley’s future was built on the promise of the semi-conductor industry, the Midwest’s radically disruptive innovations are being built on regional assets. And by playing to those strengths, the Midwest is enabling its rebirth.”

An article from New Geography (“America’s Biggest Brain Magnets“) provides a counterpoint to worrisome “brain drain” reports from the past five years, and lists Columbus as the 9th best city in the US in terms of recent gains of college educated people. The author of the article suggests that our nation’s “brains” are gravitating toward cities with more affordable housing and lifestyle opportunities.

“While the recession has taken a huge toll on the rest of Ohio, Columbus has been thriving, thanks to being home of the state capital, a booming startup culture and the largest college campus in the country,” said article author Joel Kotkin. “The city enjoys below-average unemployment and a strong tech presence.”

Do the trends mentioned in these three articles indicate that Columbus is on the right track for continued growth? Does this recognition indicate that our regional and economic development policies of the past five to ten years have helped to lay the groundwork for today? Does Columbus have enough of a solid foundation to stand out among our Midwestern peers, or are there things we need to be doing differently moving forward? Share your thoughts with us, below.

For more news and information on small business development and entrepreneurialism in Columbus, visit TheMetropreneur.com, or follow on Twitter or Facebook.

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