Let's get West Columbus back Under Construction
It Happened Before
At the end of World War II, Mayor James A. Rhodes (future Ohio governor), installed enough Westside infrastructure and annexation to persuade General Motors and Westinghouse to open several 10,000 employee factories on top of the Sullivant's old hill, (the Hilltop) finally releasing the Westside's economic potential.
Mayor Rhodes truly wanted to improve the Westside's economy, even though he spent little time there. By the mid-1950s, his efforts made this blue-collar side of this academic city, the economic envy of Central Ohio, and its economy remained robust until the mid-70's.
However, in 1955 a new mayor, M.E. Sensenbrenner realized the immense financial power the city's new income taxes provided, as did many mayors in many other towns, so they began offering big incentives to bribe large employers to open or expand into their cities.
Sensenbrenner apparently wanted much more, as he also went on an annexation rampage nabbing virtually every underdeveloped "No City" site within 10 miles of city hall. He doubled the size of Columbus, and his stated reason was to "prevent the suburban cities from annexing these lands first".
However, he did not grab another inch of potential commercial/industrial "No City" land, to the west of his office, even if 1 mile away, and Hilliard and Grove City were already growing.
Look at these current maps. By not calling most of the underdeveloped sites only on one side of town "Columbus", the city cannot offer huge developer incentives for sites not on its spreadsheets, even if that land was (and still is) completely surrounded by land that is.
Because these sites remain off of the city's books, while virtually all Central Ohio is enjoying a booming economy, the Westside is still collapsing from the mid-70s recession.
The West-southwest area has only replaced 4 of its 20 largest private employers from 1975. Of those, Express Scripts just left, BIG LOTS just moved 800 of its Westside workers away, the Casino is likely not going anywhere, and the Walmart store at I-270 and Georgesville Rd is so far to the southwest it mainly serves the booming Grove City area. However:
Columbus has likely moved into 1st place!
In 2015, local scholars and leaders tried to explain why Columbus has the second largest disparity between low and high incomes of all large U.S. cities. But they did not point out that over 60 years ago, city spreadsheets were set up to keep the Westside out of the negotiations with upscale developers, which would naturally cause a huge income disparity.
Once you tack on the Westside's recent hemorrhaging of jobs, Mt. Carmel West (most of 2000), BIG LOTS (800) and Express Scripts (457), Columbus has likely taken the first place spot away from Austin Texas.
Is it odd that two such similar cities, which are also home to the nation’s two largest college campuses, could even be in first and second place?
Recently this political ignorance worsened. City leaders are currently paying BIG LOTS over $20,000,000 in tax concessions to move those 800 employees to one of the most prestigious sites in Ohio, where they were not even wanted or welcomed by most residents.
That is not all, thousands of voters who live on these "No City" sites, surrounded by Columbus, are not allowed to vote for which Columbus leader will be ignoring them next.
The base of this problem is that just this side of town has had almost no political or economic representation that lives in it or even cares to spend time in it, so an entire side of a large American city has no real economic defenders or protectors.
The area we call Upper Columbus will never compete for great new incoming developments until it has its own leaders making sure this ignored side of town is at least in every conversation for large "desirable" projects.
FYI: The only large private employer to open in West Columbus this century (over 500 employees) is the casino. However, the only reason it came to West Columbus, city leadership did not want a casino on the "visitor" sides of town.
I will be spending the next months building a team of volunteers to help establish the new Upper Columbus Chamber of Commerce, and I (the Westside) could use all the help in this area you can offer.
Help us build this long overdue Upper Columbus Chamber, contact me at Craig@UpperColumbus.com. Westside Craig
Learn from problems, or they keep happening
The West-SW Columbus Area needs its own economic representatives, to at least make sure it is in the conversation for great Central Ohio developments. Instead of helping the area, for 196 of the last 207 years, city and state politicians have been getting away with bullying and abusing West Columbus's economy, in at least these 3 ways:
3td IGNORE M ......1955 - This Home Page