Staff Reports

Columbus, which has earned national and regional rankings over the past five years for its architectural significance, beauty and business appeal, has a new ranking for people to chat about over coffee this week.

It’s the most boring metropolitan area among the 15 in Indiana, according to Business Insider, a national website which crunched 2015 Census Bureau data this fall to rank the most exciting and most boring cities in every state across America.

To reach its conclusions, Business Insider took counts of the number of establishments for 66 different types of businesses — such as breweries, art dealers, and museums — that can make a city more interesting, it said.

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The Indianapolis-Carmel-Anderson metropolitan area, with a population just under 2 million, ranked as Indiana’s most exciting.

Columbus, with a population of 81,011 (including all of Bartholomew County), was ranked most boring among the state’s 15 metro areas by Business Insider.

“I would have to dispute that,” said Cindy Frey, president of the Columbus Area Chamber of Commerce, who had read about the ranking Tuesday night on social media.

“We’ve had an incredible year. When I think about the movie, ‘Columbus,’ which received critical acclaim, the national media attention we received for the highly successful Exhibit Columbus, and then the designation by Lumina Foundation as a Talent Hub, those three things alone are evidence that Columbus is anything but boring,” Frey said.

And regarding craft breweries, one of the defining categories, Columbus now boasts five, she said.

“Because we are a manufacturing town, the notion of continuous improvement is in our DNA, Frey said.

So, for 2018, “we have to do to better,” she said.

Karen Niverson said she could understand why the state’s most populous area ranked No. 1.

“The Indianapolis-Carmel area is very interesting, but I can’t imagine that Columbus would be considered the least (interesting),” said Niverson, executive director of the Columbus Area Visitors Center.

“This story contradicts all of the major media outlets that have covered Columbus in 2017 — credible national and international outlets have lauded us as an amazing community,” Niverson said, for reasons such as:

The number of National Historic Landmarks — seven.

The nation’s top small microbrewery in ZwanzigZ Pizza, honored in October 2016 during the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, Colo.

The density of significant Modern architecture — 78 according to “A Look at Modern Architecture and Art,” 2012 edition, by Steve Risting.

Risting’s book also lists 37 pieces of public art in Columbus, she said.

“That, and our Exhibit Columbus, the caliber of that event, that exhibition, impressed many of the architecture and design professionals around the country,” Niverson said. “This is a situation where perhaps the story wasn’t vetted very well.”

Jim Lienhoop, mayor of the most boring city in Indiana according to the ranking, enjoyed a good — and long — laugh over the news.

“We have the items that were mentioned — museums, craft breweries, and a fairly high percentage based on (numbers) per-capital,” Lienhoop said.

“Life here is pretty involved and pretty entertaining,” he said. “It’s fun to talk about, but we’ll move on to more important matters.”

Before returning to them, Leinhoop did say that Business Insider was welcome to suggest ways to make Columbus more interesting, if they were so inclined to do so.

As for others’ rankings of Columbus, the city was:

Ranked in 2012 by the American Institute of Architects as the nation’s sixth most architecturally important city in America, behind Chicago, New York, Boston, San Francisco and Washington D.C., in order.

Listed among the “Prettiest Towns in America” in 2012 by the Travel Channel, National Geographic and Fodor’s in compiling the ranking for Forbes Magazine.

Named in July as a Top 5 leading location nationally for the sixth straight year by Area Development Magazine, including four years as No. 1 overall in the Midwest.

Ranked seventh in 2016 for the second straight year in the Milken Institute’s Best-Performing Small Cities.

“I have to wonder how many people in Columbus they contacted,” Lienhoop said.

Based on the methodology of the number crunching provided by the magazine, it appears the answer to Lienhoop’s question is zero.

About Business Insider

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