How Does Columbus Rank? CEOs for Cities Releases Benchmarking Study

How does Columbus stack up against the rest? CEOs for Cities recently released City Vitals 3.0, a benchmarking study that compares the 130 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. in a number of factors. These statistical measures help a city understand their performance in four key areas – talent, innovation, connections and distinctiveness.

CEOs for Cities President and CEO Lee Fisher recently spoke at the Capital Crossroads and Discovery Special Improvement Districts’s Annual meeting to lend insights on the findings and which indicators really mean success, as well as speak to the future of cities.

Here’s how Columbus measures up – and why some of these stats can potentially mean very good things for the city.

The Innovative City

While Columbus has a lot of pride when it comes to its local, small businesses, the study indicates the city has room to grow. A sentiment echoed by others.

In measures of entrepreneurship and small business, Columbus sits around the 100 mark. Defined as the number of persons 25 and older who report they were self-employed, Columbus ranks 107th in entrepreneurship at 7.9 percent. Average is 9.6 percent and median, 8.9 percent.

For small business, the number of establishments with fewer than 20 employees per 1,000 population, Columbus is 98th at 17.6. For comparison, the top spot went to Portland, ME with 29.2 and New York was second at 28.2. Columbus also falls below the median of 20.

Venture Capital, or lack thereof, has become an increasingly hot topic in the Columbus entrepreneurial community. They city ranks 58th on the list at $17 raised per person, far below the average of $161 but at least earning some money over 30 plus cities who don’t typically see venture capital dollars. Unsurprisingly, cities like San Jose and San Francisco ranked at the top, earning $2,613 and $1,890 respectively.

The Talented City

The talent that calls a city home, as well as their level of education, are key indicators of a city’s success.

“Your neighbors education affects your salary,” Fisher says. “Sixty-three percent of jobs will require some college education or at least a post-secondary degree or credential by the year 2018.”

The good  news is Columbus ranks high when it comes to college attainment, meaning an educated workforce. Approximately 34 percent of the metro population 25 years or older has completed a four-year college degree, ranking Columbus 28th.

“College attainment is the single greateso predictor of per capita income,” Fisher says, adding the only thing more expensive than a college education is not getting one.

One of Columbus’s highest rankings is its population of the young & restless, defined as the percentage of the metro population between 25 and 34 years old that has completed a four-year college degree. The city ranks 16th at 7.7 percent. As is often a question, every city tries to figure out how to get this population to stay as they are the most mobile.

“If they leave after they graduate, then what happens is your college graduates become another city’s talent dividend,” Fisher says. However if a young, talented population does stay, it’s a ripple affect to attract more young talent.

But why a focus on this young talent? According to Fisher, by 2020, 50 percent of the workforce will be millennials. And, with this comes a change in what cities might look like.

Fisher predicts more live-work downtowns where everything someone needs – from work to play to home – is all clustered in one area. It’s exactly the stuff of the innovation district conversation that has been sparked in Columbus.

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