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Idea Forge: Columbus is a City You Can Build

 Reese Neader Idea Forge: Columbus is a City You Can Build
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The #1 up-and-coming tech city. Among the world’s most intelligent communities. Home to the nation’s largest university. The top metro for global 500 companies. The state capital of Ohio.

Columbus is an emerging global city, full of individuals and organizations with the skills to make our region an international destination. It took decades of hard work for us to get here. And we’re on the verge of something special: we’re going to get a world-class public transportation system; we’re becoming a hotbed for startup businesses that give back to their community; Franklinton will become a world-class Innovation District. To take that next step, our city needs a stronger culture of civic innovation:

  1. Connecting what works: Amplify the impact of existing work in the community by creating a space for business, nonprofits, and government to address shared challenges and connect citizens to that process so that everyone has the opportunity to build a better City.
  2. Energize a culture of civic entrepreneurship: Support a startup community that is invested in Community and build a network of citizen-investors that buy local, invest local, and can volunteer their skills and resources to give to local businesses that give back to their community.
  3. Promote our City’s world-class innovation to a national and international audience: So that our hard work can afford us greater opportunities in the global marketplace.

A city that breaks down barriers for collaboration and uses new methods and technology to solve shared challenges has unlimited potential for growth. Columbus already has the energy, the skills, and the resources. We’re here to help. We’re Forge Columbus.

Forge Columbus

Forge Columbus is the civic innovation program for the City of Columbus. Our goal is to become the official innovation program for the City of Columbus and make Columbus the most innovative city in America. How do we do that?

We invest in entrepreneurs that want to build a stronger City, connect them to a network of partners and fellows that can build their ideas for change, and promote our City’s innovation to a local and national audience.

Our event series raises the bar for our City’s commitment to innovation by bringing together leaders in business, nonprofits, and government to address the City’s shared challenges. With our events and media campaign we build a network of support for entrepreneurs with project ideas that use new methods and technology to improve our City. Entrepreneurs that are ready to launch their startup can be sponsored by our Accelerator Program. Forge Columbus runs the program with support from our City partners and connects entrepreneurs to a team of fellows and mentors that can help build their projects. Successful projects are pitched to investors that support our mission. And together with our network we celebrate the success of Columbus innovation by promoting our good works to a local and national audience.

We’re already working to help you build a better City.

Connecting What Works

Columbus will never be a world-class city without a world-class transportation system. Forge Ahead is a grassroots, community-driven plan to support investment in our city’s transportation system. In collaboration with Transit Columbus, Forge Ahead integrates input from community experts with local transit advocacy groups, nonprofit organizations, and the private sector through an open process of public engagement that allows Columbus citizens to provide instant feedback on their ideas. Our planning process is being hosted by OSU’s City and Regional Planning Department, whose students will aggregate recommendations from across the community to develop an integrated plan for public transportation investment that includes information on expanding options for pedestrians, biking, bus lines, rail, and car sharing. The plan will explore options for private investment in transportation. MORPC, COTA, and City Hall have all been invited to participate in the process and recommendations from the plan will be shared with them in hopes that citizen input can be integrated into their work. Forge Columbus will be hosting events with our partners in 2014 to engage the public and increase support for public transportation in the city. In 2015 we will be engaging with our City’s leadership to support public and private investment in tangible projects draw from the planning process.

Energizing a Culture of Civic Entrepreneurship

Tamela Walker, creator and head chef of Torlitas, is a proud example of how supporting community-driven entrepreneurship can build successful businesses in Columbus. Forge Columbus, through our Kiva Columbus campaign, has worked with Tamela and her business to crowdfund a $3,000 zero-interest loan for capital improvements that help her expand production and sales of her product. We’ve connected her pro-bono with chefs from top local restaurants, designers to consult on marketing, and local producers that can provide her recipe with superior-quality ingredients. With the money you helped raise for Torlitas, we’ve helped her expand her operation by working with our partners at the Columbus Food Hub and helped her source her products at the 400 Farmers Market and local retail shops that feature locally-made goods.

Promoting Columbus as a Global City

Bringing the Kiva microlending platform to Columbus is a key strategy behind telling the story of Columbus’ innovation culture and success. Leveraging Kiva’s reputation of working around the world and with US civic innovators like Bill Clinton in Little Rock and Cory Booker in Newark, New Jersey, Forge Columbus is using the platform tell the stories of our city’s community-driven entrepreneurs and demonstrate our city leadership’s support for their efforts.

Do You Want to Build a Better Columbus?

Join us. You have the chance to help your city build a world-class transportation system. You have the chance to invest in entrepreneurs that want to give back to your community. We’ve only mentioned two of the projects we currently run to give you an idea of the work that we do. In this Idea Forge article series, we’ll be highlighting the work of Forge partners and Forge-sponsored entrepreneurs to showcase the trends that are re-defining our city and to enlist your support in our city’s innovation. In the meantime, join the Forge Brigade and Forge On!

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