It’s Time to Build

Leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.
-Tom Peters

Great companies are built by those who create new markets and innovate old ones. Communities are built by those who develop the policies and infrastructure that allow commerce to flow and creators to create. Public-private partnerships exist to bridge the gap and allow projects to develop that wouldn’t otherwise occur. All of these things attract people and investment. All are required for success, and they’re more important and more possible than ever before.

The ability to start and scale a company has been aided by technology, support from the community and the free flow of information around the world. Communities don’t have to rely on a single company or the vision of a few to create a great place. Public-private partnerships are strong and business and government are working together as never before, especially at the local level.

There are those in the world who want to return to a different era. An era during which only a few had the information, know-how and access to capital to achieve great things. There is no returning to that era. The lid is off the bottle. So what should we build today?

  • The world’s best workforce — trained and motivated talent that helps companies innovate and compete globally
  • The world’s best infrastructure — pathways that allow goods and ideas to move globally
  • The world’s best companies — innovators that serve customers and solve real consumer problems globally
  • Resilient communities — places that inspire pride in their citizens, and are able to attract people and capital globally

We have few excuses and many obstacles. Let’s begin.

-Kenny McDonald

Columbus 2020 Update

  • Great news for travelers came last week when Southwest Airlines announced that they’ll add add nonstop service to Boston and Oakland from Port Columbus International Airport. The new flights begin in August and fares are on sale now.
  • This week, the Columbus 2020 team will embark on two international business development missions—one in the UK, and another in Japan. Partners from the City of Dublin will travel with our team in Japan. We’ll also be in Puerto Rico for the Site Selectors Guild 2015 Annual Conference.
  • Back at home, our team will host several companies evaluating the Columbus Region.

In Appreciation of Business

To be successful, you have to have your heart in your business, and your business in your heart.
-Thomas Watson, Sr.

Business has always been exciting and has always required leaders to adapt to the economy. Today’s economy takes the need to adapt to a new level. Change is constant, swift, and has global consequences. Fortune 500 companies can be knocked off their perch by startups in a matter of months, social media can ruin a good reputation overnight, and technology is creating business models previously unimagined. Are businesses better than ever before? Are business leaders better than ever before?

Some would argue that business has always been disruptive and “only the paranoid survive.” Others would argue that the pace of change is faster and more severe than ever before. Every era has its share of transformational leaders, but perhaps today’s leaders are the ones under the most pressure, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

This week, reach out to a founder, entrepreneur or business leader. Someone who meets payroll. Someone who makes the hard decisions to invest when others say it can’t be done. Someone who creates new ways to add value to our economy through very personal efforts. Thank them for their contributions to your community and all that they do to change lives by providing jobs and investment in a changing world.

-Kenny McDonald

Columbus 2020 Update

  • Last week, JPMorgan Chase and the Columbus Foundation released reports detailing their findings on workforce issues in the Columbus Region. The report from JPMorgan Chase, the Columbus Region’s largest private sector employer, is part of their $250 million, five year New Skills at Work Initiative. It looks at how the skills gap is poised to affect the regional job market overall, while the Columbus Foundation’s report presents a deep dive into the opportunities for youth who are currently disconnected from education or the workforce.
  • Next week, our team will participate in two important discussions for international business: Sourcing Capital and Trade from Asia, and the Columbus Chinese Chamber of Commerce Forum. The first will provide insight into export opportunities, sourcing business and private capital, and using EB-5 financing. The second is a discussion on the possible formation of a Columbus Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

Linked Together

The weakest link in a chain is the strongest because it can break it.
-Stanislaw Jerzy Lec

A networked world means that what happens someone else’s economy matters more than ever. A natural disaster or a man-made economic meltdown in another city or country can have tremendous impact on the companies and industries in our own backyards.

We don’t have to look beyond our shores for an example. Regular strikes at the Port of Long Beach are impacting supply chains across North America and the cost of everyday goods.

Long Beach is the largest port in the United States and ranked among the largest logistics centers. Many goods that we purchase and parts that arrive on our shores for final assembly come through this important port before they are transported by rail or truck to markets across the U.S.

When this major West Coast port is unpredictable – as it is now – companies must adjust their supply chains to receive goods through eastern and southern ports. While these ports are expanding and very capable, they do not provide a complete solution to the issue. These adjustments cost precious time and ultimately, they unnecessarily raise the price of products you and I purchase every day. Solutions are being sought for this issue, and the Panama Canal expansion will have some impact. But ultimately, we need a productive and predictable Port of Long Beach.

-Kenny McDonald

The Columbus Region’s supply chain industry accounts for an estimated 75,000 jobs locally and is considered one of the most complete logistics industry clusters in the United States. Learn more here.

Columbus 2020 Update

  • This week, the Columbus 2020 team will host companies evaluating the Columbus Region.
  • Our team will attend the Columbus Business First Power Breakfast featuring the City of Dublin’s Dana McDaniel and Terry Foegler. We’ll also be at the Columbus Chamber Annual Meeting featuring Jamie Dimon, chairman of the board and chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co. JPMorgan Chase is the Columbus Region’s largest private employer, and Dimon will share insights on business in an exclusive interview conducted by George Barrett, chairman and CEO, Cardinal Health.
  • Congratulations to Jack Partridge, outgoing president of Columbia Gas and chief policy officer of NiSource Inc., who will receive the Columbus Award at the Chamber’s Annual Meeting.

Tax Matters

The Ohio Tax Conference assembled in Columbus this past week. While it may appear as a mundane gathering to many, taxes are a critically important topic that warrants dialogue and debate by tax professionals, elected leaders, public administrators and businesses.

Much like school and healthcare systems, taxes impact everyone and we probably all have an opinion about how they should or should not be applied. Tax rates and policies can often impact which businesses select your state or community over time. While tax structure is rarely the only reason a business chooses to operate or grow in a community, it is usually on the list of important variables. Tax policy can also reflect what your state or community values most, and which industries or business functions it believes are most important to the health of the area. Do your tax rates and policies favor entrepreneurs, manufacturing or other industries?

As an economic developer, there are common questions that come to mind about taxes. Does the tax and how it is applied allow us to effectively compete? Is it applied equitably? Is policy flexible so that if the tax isn’t applied equitably, it can be mitigated? Another important question is emerging, as demographic changes created by baby boomer retirement and other workforce issues affect company location decisions: Does the tax system attract talented people to live in the state or community?

A perfect system of taxation does not exist for all business models. Tough compromises and decisions have to be made by political leaders, and they should be informed by business leaders, economic development officials and others. Taxes are necessary to build the infrastructure and community services used by people and companies to facilitate commerce and increase the quality of life. We appreciate the leaders who deal with these issues everyday and the many firms that help us interpret and understand these policies for our clients.

-Kenny McDonald

Columbus 2020 Update

  • Our thanks to the many of you who joined us for the Columbus 2020 Investor Update last Thursday. The discussion focused on the Columbus Region’s place in the global economy and we released Columbus Global Connect, a plan for foreign trade and investment developed in partnership with the Brookings Institution and JPMorgan Chase.
  • Congratulations and thank you to six companies that announced expansions in our region last week — Aspen EnergyBenchmark EducationJ&R Schugel TruckingLaserflexPrecision Tower Products and Vantage Point Logistics. Together, the expansions represent $13 million in capital investment and 199 new jobs.

Community Service

When successful entrepreneurs are interviewed about their journey, they will often tell you of the trials and failures first. In fact, they often note that without these setbacks they would not have achieved success. They speak about how they couldn’t get a customer, or financing, or even any respect for their ideas. The will to stick to principles and to overcome obstacles takes not only a special person and team, but a special purpose.

In an interview at the World Economic Forum last week, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, explains his drive to serve his customers and the people of his country. These ambitions helped him and his team launch the largest IPO in U.S. history, and brought 100 million people to their service EACH DAY! I highly recommend you make time for the 45-minute video interview with Jack Ma – I consider it a must-watch for entrepreneurs and leaders in both business and government.

Economic development organizations are here to serve both communities and clients. Just as Jack Ma indicated, we must serve those constituents with absolute integrity and provide leadership when tough things needs to be done. We must not be deterred from our goals, and we must provide balance when things go awry.

-Kenny McDonald

Columbus 2020 Update

  • This week is the culmination of nearly 2 years of work developing a global trade and investment plan for the Columbus Region, which we will launch on Thursday at the Columbus 2020 Investor Update. With the help of the Brookings Institution, JPMorgan Chase, dozens of economic development peers from around the country, and companies and communities within our region, we will launch an essential plan to increase foreign investment and trade. Deborah Scherer and Jung Kim from the Columbus 2020 team did great work to make this plan a reality, and they will lead our efforts to execute it going forward.
  • This week, we will also present at the Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum about a related subject – how to continue and increase trade and investment with Canada, our closest and perhaps most important national partner.
  • Congratulations to the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, Experience Columbus and our partners at the Columbus Blue Jackets and Worthington Industries for hosting one of the very best events in sports, the NHL All-Star Game. The weekend was a real celebration of both hockey and the Columbus Region.

Economic Security = National Security

The recent terrorist acts in Europe have brought to light the difficult subjects of immigration, race, religion, and yes, economic development. As John Hope Bryant stated at the HOPE Global Forum in Atlanta last week, “the most dangerous people in the world are those without hope.” This does not justify these murderous acts against innocent citizens, but it does serve as a call to action right here at home.

When our economy is strong, we are able to not only stay on the offense against resilient enemies, but to negotiate better deals with our allies. Economic growth fortifies our neighborhoods family by family and it strengthens the United States’ ability to stand against those who wish to limit freedom. Economic strength in real dollars helps create infrastructure and a military to protect us and generates hope for a better future.

Especially on this day when we honor Martin Luther King, Jr., it is important to be reminded of the power of opportunity. In his final book, Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community?, he wrote extensively about the cycle of poverty, the far worse condition of hopelessness and the many challenges of broad-based economic development. Perhaps he would be proud of how far we’ve come on certain issues. I’m certain he would observe that we still have much work to do. Let’s honor him with our commitment to create economic security for our neighborhoods, our cities and our country.

-Kenny McDonald

Columbus 2020 Update

  • Congratulations to The Ohio State Buckeyes on winning the National Championship! Your winning season reflects the standard of excellence achieved every day in the Columbus Region.
  • It’s another special week in Central Ohio as Columbus hosts the NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena.
  • This Friday is the last day to register for the Columbus 2020 Investor Update on January 29, featuring the Columbus Region Global Trade and Investment Strategy and 2015 Global Economic Outlook. We’ll be joined by the Brookings Institution and International Strategic Analysis as we take a look at the Columbus Region and its role in the global economy.

Let’s Go Bucks

The Ohio State University and Ohio State football are two of the Columbus Region’s most recognizable brands. That is a fact constantly reinforced as the Columbus 2020 team travels across the country and the globe. For the 2 million people who live, work and play in the Columbus Region, we know there is much more to our area, but that doesn’t mean that we aren’t proud that OSU represents us so often on the national stage.

We are Buckeye sports fans and we are proud to be associated with one of the finest academic and research institutions in the world. We are also proud that The Ohio State University is located in an incredible region full of talented people and innovative companies, top-ranked attractions, events that draw visitors from around the world, and nationally acclaimed arts and culinary scenes.

We will be watching the National Championship game this evening and like many of you we may have two or more screens in front of us. Follow us on Twitter at @cbusregion and check out the hashtag #cbusproud to see hundreds of reasons why people love Columbus. We hope you’ll add your own.

-Kenny McDonald

Columbus 2020 Update

  • Our team will be in Dallas this week to meet with clients and cheer on the Buckeyes. We will also meet with companies in Northern California.
  • The Columbus Region December 2014 Economic Update is now available. The report shows 134 active projects, led by the manufacturing and business services sectors.
  • On January 29, Columbus 2020 and the Ohio Development Services Agency will host a special Columbus 2020 Investor Update, featuring the Columbus Region Global Trade and Investment Strategy and 2015 Global Economic Outlook. We will be joined by the Brookings Institution and International Strategic Analysis as we take a look at the Columbus Region and its role in the global economy. Please RSVP here.

Not Done Yet

Happiness lies in the joy of achievement, in the thrill of creative effort.
-President Franklin D. Roosevelt

First of all, how about those Buckeyes?! They have achieved something great for themselves, The Ohio State University, the state of Ohio and the entire Columbus Region – and they aren’t done yet! Their winning effort in the Sugar Bowl was the culmination of a season in which they faced adversity, had highs and lows, and worked every day to improve as a team to reach their goals. What a great example for all of us as we begin the 2015 year of work.

Predictions about 2015 from both government and business leaders are quite optimistic. I am struck by articles like the Wall Street Journal’s “Bring on 2015 – We’re Ready and Hopeful.” In 2014, the national theme seemed to be “if only we could.” In 2015, the theme seems to be “we can, if…” If we work hard, work together and catch a few breaks.

As we enter the second half of the decade, we are more enthusiastic than ever about generating opportunities for residents of the 11-county Columbus Region. We are more committed than ever to helping local companies grow, attracting market leading companies to the Region, and accelerating entrepreneurial ideas into thriving businesses ventures.

The Columbus 2020 team is diving right into the new year with plans to visit businesses in California, Japan, Germany, Brazil and China in the first 150 days of the year. We will be in Atlanta, New York, Dallas, Detroit and Chicago regularly. We will also be working closely with local business leaders and helping them connect to local, state and global resources so that they can continue to grow our economic foundation.

We are excited to host business leaders at the NHL All-Star Game and throughout the Blue Jackets’ run to the playoffs. We will enjoy the #NewCrew as spring arrives and we will again entertain at the best PGA event on tour, the Memorial Tournament in Dublin. At the end of May we will host the first ever Trust Belt conference, which will bring leaders from all over the Midwest to the Columbus Region. We will launch a comprehensive trade and investment strategy to accelerate foreign investment and to aid our local companies with growth plans around the world. Perhaps most importantly, we will work with our community allies and business leaders to update our the Columbus 2020 plan for the next five years.

Our region will continue to generate and attract top talent. Transportation, utility and communications infrastructure will be built to open up arteries of growth and development. Our companies will enter new markets around the world, and they will build their supply chains to and from the Columbus Region.

The Columbus Region is thriving, and like our Buckeyes – we aren’t done yet! We can achieve great things in 2015 by working together to meet the challenges that are sure to come our way. Thank you to all of our Columbus 2020 investors for your support and encouragement during the first half of the decade and leading into the second. It is greatly appreciated.

-Kenny McDonald


Everyday Hero

A baby born in 2014 will turn 18 and effectively enter the workforce in 2032. If I were to write a letter to the next generation about the people who are working today to make the future better, this is what I would say:

To the workforce of 2032,

Perhaps things will be much different in 2032 than they are in 2014. I am quite sure some problems will have been solved and others will persist or have been created. In any case, I am sure you will live in a community of some sort, large or small, and there are leaders in those very communities right now trying to ensure it is a great place for you. Some leaders you will learn about – you will see their names on buildings and bridges. There are also hundreds of others – people I would call everyday heroes – who preserve traditions and add to our culture in immeasurable ways.

There are entrepreneurs dreaming up new business models and inventions that will lead to companies that employ hundreds or even thousands. There are artists creating new ways to inspire emotion and stir debate. There are elected leaders who are making tough decisions and investing in the future, and there are business leaders who are contributing their time and giving back to accelerate progress and solve our toughest problems.

Here is what I ask of you. Work hard to make the most of the advantages people are working to create for you. Prepare by being diligent in school or by honing a skill. Be open to new ideas, cultures and people. Learn about the increasingly complicated world we live in. Be sure to learn about our history, both our failings and our successes. Do everything you can do to be an everyday hero.

-Kenny McDonald

Columbus 2020 Update

  • The Columbus Region November Economic Update is available here. The report details the expansion and location announcements by industry leaders Adalet, Klarna and KTH Parts, a regional unemployment rate of 3.9 percent, and 139 active projects entering the final month of the year.
  • Our team wishes you a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2015!

A Peek Into the Future

It has been said that demography is destiny. Young, healthy populations have better odds to grow their economies and develop consumer markets, therefore attracting investment and jobs. Subsequently, a stable job market leads to a growing economy that allows both businesses and governments to fund innovation and fuel even more growth. A great article about this was written in 2010 just as we were beginning to climb our way back from financial crisis and the Great Recession. As the article suggests, North America – and the U.S. in particular – is positioned very well for the next several decades.

As economic developers, we not only have to focus on the immediate opportunities of growing the economy, but what future challenges we are likely to face. Job creation is always at the top of the priority list, and for some excellent insight into what is next, the World Economic Forum has formed a Global Council on the Future of Jobs to help analyze and debate the future of job creation around the world.

While it can be difficult to get your arms around the need to create 600 million jobs by 2030, the same issues being discussed in both articles are important for local and state economic development leaders to study and debate.

Columbus 2020 Update

  • This week, the Columbus 2020 team is hosting consultants and companies evaluating the Columbus Region.
  • Our team wishes you a happy holiday season and a prosperous 2015!