Columbus Chamber cbuzz: Kenny McDonald of One Columbus

Photo provided by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce

The Columbus Chamber and Capital University have partnered to bring the first business-themed podcast to Columbus. During cbuzz, Columbus-based brand journalist Mikaela Hunt will speak with local business owners, entrepreneurs and community leaders and allow them to tell their story and highlight their organization, while further inspiring the entrepreneurial spirit that is buzzing in the city.

Columbus 2020 has arrived. An economic development organization launched 10 years ago to support the Columbus region’s growth, a new decade means it’s time for a new name.

On the latest episode of the Columbus Chamber cbuzz podcast, Kenny McDonald, the organization’s president & CEO, discusses Columbus 2020’s shift to One Columbus.

McDonald discusses the meaning in the new name.

“We weren’t practicing regionalism on a consistent basis,” he says. “Part of the ‘One’ is that we’re one region now.”

It also reflects the organization’s view of growth and prosperity as one entity. The pursuit of growth is necessary, but so are prosperity initiatives, like housing, education and mobility, that will continue to fuel growth.

“One Columbus is really a partnership for the pursuit of growth and prosperity,” McDonald says.

He explains that while economic opportunity is a necessity to draw people into the region to learn more, human and social development also matter.

“Our ambition is far harder and way more ambitious than simply the pursuit of jobs and investment and payroll,” McDonald says.

He focuses his attention on the region’s untapped human capacity, citing that there are whole areas of the region that have been cut off from economic opportunity because of factors like lack of broadband, limited transportation options or rising housing costs.

For McDonald, Columbus’ name as a Smart City lies not in technology like autonomous vehicles, but seeking transformative change and unlocking capacity and access in the neighborhoods that need it most.

McDonald also reflects of the Columbus region’s rare opportunity to learn from other mid-sized cities like Nashville and Austin. Like Columbus, these cities have been on a strong growth trajectory, however they haven’t always kept pace in housing or infrastructure, deteriorating what people move to these cities for.

“We’re going to have to do things differently if we want to not follow that same path, and that would be historic,” McDonald says.

He envisions a Columbus where the region continues to grow, but commute times stay the same — or even go down. Where it would still be possible to take a job on one side of town and live on the other.

Listen to the full podcast featuring Kenny McDonald of One Columbus

Listen to the full episode to hear more on McDonald’s background, his initial thoughts on the Columbus region, the role small business will play in the area’s continued growth and more.

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