By Catherine Lang-Cline
When I first came to Columbus it was anything but a love affair. 20+ years ago I left my home in the Chicago suburbs for what was referred to as a “flyover city”. No family, no friends, and I didn’t have a job but quickly got into Bath & Body Works as a freelance designer.
Fast forward 20+ years and this has become my home. How? It was quite the evolution. A perfect storm. Let’s start with this, Les Wexner and the people at his companies delivered some of the most amazing talent from all over the country to live and work here. Many stayed long after their career ended with LBrands and they started businesses, joined the other Fortune 500 companies here and really got involved with growing the area. Many people started seeing that Columbus was something special and keeping great talent here was key.
This flux of talent started getting Columbus noticed. Starting as a test market for fast food, it quickly evolved to be a great market to open any restaurant. Now you could lose count of all of the great places to eat when before your choices were limited. Who doesn’t like a city that can provide you with a great meal?
Restaurants grow even more when there is something to do. The Greater Columbus Arts Council has increased the quality of life here by helping artists, museums, theaters, etc., with the help of City Council and the community. We have experienced huge strides by having an amazing art museum, wonderful theater, all types of music, and full arsenal of every type of talent either living here or visiting here and it can be found everywhere. The people living in Columbus welcomed all of this into the community.
What else was growing? Well, just about all businesses. The Columbus Partnership, Columbus 2020, the Columbus Chamber, NAWBO, WPO, EO, YPO, Vistage, Business First, Columbus CEO, Smart Business, and more, started or grew by really investing in making this a strong business community. Worth mentioning that at the same time Columbus had a mayor that was full of passion for the city, Mayor Michael Coleman and his team lead the charge on a lot of this change that continues today.
That perfect storm changed Columbus from a college town, a flyover town, and a cow town. Columbus rose up and began getting on many prestigious lists of why this is one of the best cities to live in or travel to. It has become a hub of craft breweries, entrepreneurs, fashion, food, and a place to raise your family. Columbus is offering so much that it won the Smart Cities competition for a grant to show how smart we actually are.
For me, in 20 years I have made many friends, grew a family, and grew a business. What’s not to love about that? Columbus, I am grateful to you and the wonderful, helpful, friendly people living here. When I arrived here I was skeptical, but you surprised me… and I am a bit dizzy from the love that I have for you. Happy Valentine’s Day.