Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Life in Columbus

While I was in Columbus the other week I didn’t just interview the mayor, I also was interviewed by Columbus Underground, and the transcript of our discussion is now available online. Lots of stuff in there is not specific to Columbus, so it’s good reading even if you don’t live there.

Also, Experience Columbus, the city’s Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, is launching a campaign targeting 25-35 year olds in cities like Chicago and Washington, DC. They are going to be running ads in those cities, etc. with the idea of attracting those people to Columbus.

They also put up a site for that audience called Life in Columbus which is mostly content aggregated from various community sources like Columbus Underground, and thus is always changing. But the centerpiece of the site is a one minute video about the city, which I’ll present here without commentary. If the video doesn’t display for you, watch at Vimeo.

Topics: Civic Branding, Talent Attraction
Cities: Columbus (Ohio)

24 Responses to “Life in Columbus”

  1. George Mattei says:

    As I said previously, lots of Hipster-style diversity, but not any real diversity in the Columbus sense. Lots of skin colors but it seems to push a common ideology that many cities push-the an urbane “me too” sort of Austin-Portland clone.

  2. bemclau says:

    I see lots of these from various cities selling themselves. Uusually I am ambivalent about them. Most ppl here tend to be critical of them. The parody ones are hilarious.

    But is there a shining example of a really good one?

  3. John says:

    Nothing particularly wrong with the video. Makes the city seem young, open, diverse, urban, cool, etc. These are positive attributes and I think Columbus is all of those things. There are a couple of problems though:
    1. I’m skeptical that anyone would consider moving based on a one minute promo video. Maybe there are better forms of media or methods to sell the city?
    2. If Columbus is trying to recruit from places like Chicago and DC, I don’t think they are going to win in the urban/cool angle. Why not play the trump cards: housing affordability and lack of traffic congestion? Those are the main reasons to move to Columbus from a larger city for anyone without familial attachments.

  4. TNMillenial says:

    @John: General rule of thumb – it’s not really a trump card if everyone else at the table has it too. Everyone and his brother in the Midwest plays up the housing and traffic angle.

    I’ve wondered why Columbus doesn’t try for a more explicit “Little America” angle. Say, “Yes, we have housing and reasonable traffic, but we’re not insular or exclusive *cough*cleveland, louisville, or cincinnati*cough*. We’re not built around a river or a port, we’re built around the people who’ve chosen to live here. We welcome both people who want a traditional lifestyle and those looking for a little something different. We’ve got great suburbs and a vibrant core. We’ve taken the best parts of America and mixed them all together in the middle of the heartland.”

  5. Chris Barnett says:

    @TNM, even that description of Columbus is “me too”, as it applies word for word to Indianapolis (which probably has a more-vibrant downtown and a kicker from the international recognition around auto racing).

  6. Parker says:

    I lived in Columbus both as a grad student and a professional for over 6 years before transplanting to Washington, DC. Columbus does have good amenities compared to Cincinnati and Cleveland, but ultimately it’s a place where you end up drunk driving.

  7. Brett says:

    At least it doesn’t have the cloying music accompanying most city videos.

  8. Jeffrey says:

    The reality is that most of the Midwest second-tier cities are variations on a theme. They share many of the same common desirable attributes as others have noted above, but each has a few defining characteristics, none of which alone may be enough to get someone to relocate.

    I love Indianapolis, but I am here by chance because of a job that brought me here. I don’t for a minute believe that I wouldn’t have about as decent a life in Columbus, St. Louis, etc.

  9. Josh Lapp says:


    I agree with what you’re saying. Working on the assumption that most people only move for jobs, for a city like Columbus adverts like this still make sense. If someone in DC or Chi has the potential of a job in Columbus but has no perception of it, then what is the likelihood they would be eager to move? Perhaps that is more of what this campaign is about.

  10. Jeffrey says:

    Good point Josh. Some adverts are really infomercials for the uninformed vs. a hard sell to get people to change locales.

  11. Columbus, Amazing says:

    Horrible video. It makes Columbus look like a liberal, gay city that is filled with walkers, bicyclists, leftists and other obstructionists. I had to turn it off.

    Columbus isn’t like that, at all. Columbus is a real place for people who drive cars and actually do things.

  12. Josh Lapp says:

    Clearly you’re correct CA. Especially after Pride weekend with over 450,000 people in attendance.

  13. Matthew hall says:

    are you suggesting that 450,000 people chose to attend gay pride events in Columbus, Ohio? That’s ludicrous. It’s physically impossible. Where do these delusions of grandeur come from?

  14. Columbus, Amazing says:

    Sounds like the phone attendance figure from the Million Man March.

    If true, that would make 1 in 4 people in Columbus over that weekend who have chosen to mate with the gender opposite what nature assigned. That’s mind-blowing.

  15. Matthew hall says:

    josh, preposterous. Still, such delusions of grandeur do seem to provide something around which Columbusers can unite.

    Here’s the latest job numbers for April and May respectively from

    Columbus – 982,500 – 994,700,

    Cincinnati – 1,041,500 – 1,054,800

    Here are the metro GDP growth over the last two years and projected GDP growth to 2020 respectively from us economics/2014/06/report.pdf from 2012 to 2014.

    Columbus – 6.6 percent, 2.9 percent

    Cincinnati – 6.9 percent, 2.5 percent

    where is the profound difference?

  16. Josh Lapp says:

    Matt- I said nothing about GDP, Jobs ect. Columbus is one of more well known/attended Pride destinations, certainly in the Midwest.

    Is there even one thing you could acknowledge is better about Columbus than Cincinnati? And again, i’m having trouble understanding why you even need to bring that into the discussion. I’m more than happy to acknowledge the faults of the city, but I realize that takes some self-awareness which you (and I’m guessing you and the rest of Cincinnati since you are the default spokesperson) are devoid of.

    CA- Not sure what world you’re living in but one does not need to have sex with the same gender to support equal rights.

  17. Matthew Hall says:

    I know you didn’t mention jobs. I did. They are part of “Life in Columbus.” I can’t think of anything more important for understanding life in Columbus than understanding the jobs of people in Columbus. The video is selling Columbus and I’m interested in what they’re selling. I made no mention of sexuality and I leave that for others to discuss. I don’t think that half a million people came or could have come to Columbus in one time and place for any purpose. It’s just not believable. A little realism and good evidence is much more valuable that self-serving boosterism.

  18. Josh Lapp says:

    Interesting article that has a bit to do with what was in the video. (A Crew match was featured in the video). Columbus had the 2nd highest viewership in the country for the world cup ( Put that together with ‘Dos a Cero’ and the first soccer stadium in the US and we have a bit of a soccer culture building.

  19. Columbus, Amazing says:

    Josh, that’s distressing. You don’t want to be a Soccer town.

    And only gay people and politicians go to a gay pride event. There’s no way 450,000 gay people were in Columbus.

  20. Columbus, Amazing says:


    Thanks for that jobs site.

  21. Ok, Columbus Amazing, no more comments on gays.

  22. Columbus, Amazing says:

    Why not? Why do urban forums treat gays as this sacred group to whom all must treat as exalted elite and whom are exempt from all questions and criticisms? Urban forums take much fun at picking on Boomers (age discrimination) and Conservatives (race, age demographic discrimination), but gays are off limits?

    What is it about today’s view of cities that gives gays such adulation?

    I remember how cities were in the 80’s, and that viewpoint was very much the opposite, in those days.

    What’s the secret code about gays that the rest of us don’t get?

  23. urbanleftbehind says:


    The ideal new city residents, from a fiscally conservative urbanist point of view, are professional gay child-less couples, the whiter the better. If they do adopt or arrange for the birth of children, it is usually no more than 1 or 2 and it occurs in the couple’s 30s or 40s, so not as much undue strain on educational (school resources) from poorly educated and violence-prone home environments. From the point of view of health services, this group did much to reduce their transmission of HIV and not be the sheer expense they were in the 80s and early 90s (they were eclipsed by down-low blacks and their female victims).

    Gays were some of the first urban pioneers and have a lot of spinoff of small business activity. I’m sure that a lot of the rest of “you” (C.A.’s “us”) are less threatened by a gay household than by a middle- or even upper-income black or hispanic household moving next door.

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