When I was seven I recall often waking up in the middle of the night with tears having washed my face. The pain was so intense that even while I slept my body wasn’t able to protect me from the reality of my experience–I was growing. My mother tried to explain that in order for me to “become a big boy” I would have to endure this uncomfortable phase for a brief time. With information shared by others who had been through the process of growth I was able to manage my experience.

Our city is growing and while growth is the greatest opportunity for Columbus it is also the greatest challenge–to grow into the city for which we are destined and to fully understand our growth so as not to be overwhelmed.

As Columbus grows we have to acknowledge current areas of economic disparity, educational and experiential shortfalls, limited infrastructure, and lack of social and cultural engagement opportunities for a shifting population demographic.

Cities like San Francisco, New York, and Chicago are examples of established growth-cities which Columbus may desire to emulate; however, we should partner with cities like San Jose, Austin, and Denver that have recently experienced sizable growth and learn from their successes and failures. As a city we understand our relevance as it relates to the social and political impact and discourse we have on and in our country. As we grow we need to harken to the foundation on which we have been built and to be purposeful so as not to lose the essence of who we are and the importance of our role in our country. By learning from, and partnering with, the aforementioned cities we would do an invaluable service to our current and future citizens–creating deep and meaningful relationships that leverage a combined power.

Columbus is a leader in the creation of public-private partnerships which have stimulated economic and cultural growth. In January 2014 the Ohio State University’s College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences announced a partnership that would bring a new global licensing agreement with the University and Riverside Research, a New York-based nonprofit scientific research company. Two years later that partnership is strong and not only has Columbus benefited but the state of Ohio has seen agricultural growth because of the relationship. If not for the vision and commitment of civic-minded leaders who came together in 2008 and launched Columbus 2020, partnerships like that of the Ohio State University may not have been publicly encouraged and supported. To ensure partnerships of this nature past 2020 it is important for our civic leaders to speak up in support of these public-private partnerships.

As a community Columbus has thought about nurturing our citizens through education and support for many years. Leadership Columbus “has been the premier training ground to educate, empower, equip, and prepare…individuals to become the current and future trustees in and for our community” since 1974. It behooves us to think critically about how we can develop these trustees at an earlier stage in their citizenship so as to ensure individuals are always thinking about how they can be vested trustees in and for our city. The work of the Create Columbus Commission is a wonderful counterpoint to Leadership Columbus as the CCC works to engage and consider current and incoming new perspectives that will help make “Columbus the next great American city” and hopefully ensure the vision that “we are the nation’s number one place for young professionals to live, work, and play.”

Columbus is growing, let’s learn from others and take action to manage that growth effectively.