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Smart Columbus Update: More Funding Secured, New “Chief Innovation Officer” to Lead Effort

Brent Warren Brent Warren Smart Columbus Update: More Funding Secured, New “Chief Innovation Officer” to Lead Effort
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When Columbus was announced as the winner of the $40 million federal Smart City grant last summer, much was made of the additional $90 million in matching resources that were secured from local corporate and institutional partners.

The city announced last week that it has secured additional commitments, growing the total pot of monetary and in-kind contributions to over $350 million.

“We have more than quadrupled the size of the acceleration fund, thanks in large part to our partners at AEP and the OSU,” said Mayor Andrew Ginther at a news conference on Wednesday. “By the end of 2020, I want this to be a billion dollar effort for our community.”

Two major initiatives from AEP are being counted toward the new commitments: the installation of nearly 900,000 new “smart meters” on homes, and a push to dramatically increase the number of electric vehicle charging stations throughout the state.

OSU, meanwhile, has increased its overall research investment in Smart Columbus to $57 million.

Also announced last week was the creation of a new position – Chief Innovation Officer – which will be filled by former Deputy Director of Development Mike Stevens. Stevens most recently worked for Lake City, a Chicago-area economic development nonprofit. He will work in tandem with Mark Patton of the Columbus Partnership to lead the overall Smart Columbus effort.

The Smart Columbus program office will also be relocating to a new space on the recently-renovated second floor of the Idea Foundry in Franklinton.

“The city will be co-locating there with our partners,” said Jeff Ortega, Assistant Director of the city’s Department of Public Service. “The idea is to foster a spirit of cooperation within this endeavor…we’re very excited.”

The theme of collaboration is one that Mayor Ginther returned to often in his remarks.

“This will require radical collaboration,” he said. “The work begins with the projects we’ve committed to, but as we move forward the goal is for Smart Columbus to be a self-sustaining effort that scales deployments into other neighborhoods, generates new pilots and programs, facilitates new industry partnerships, and brings innovation to all city services.”

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