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Editorial: City honors have roots in successful collaborations

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The spotlight is shining brightly on Columbus, and for good reason.

Columbus has been chosen as a finalist for the All-America City Award designation by the National Civic League. Winning the award for a second time — the first was in 1994 — would be a tremendous honor for the community. A local delegation, which made presentations this weekend in Denver, will learn the results tonight.

Columbus also is making news because of its state-best per capita personal income and quality of life features that make the city one of the best places for baby boomers to live and retire.

Columbus’ real per capita personal income of $47,209 — total income divided by the total population — ranks it 25th among the nation’s 381 metropolitan statistical areas, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The city ranks high because of its manufacturing base and the well-paying jobs those employers provide. Columbus has added about 4,000 jobs in just the past four years.

Cummins Inc. has played an important role in this job growth by investing in the community, but it has had local help. For example, when the company announced in June 2011 that it would hire 600 more professional employees and place them in a new $17 million downtown office complex adjacent to The Commons, the city agreed to Cummins’ request that it spend $1 million on local education initiatives. The city said the money would come from its Rainy Day Fund.

New jobs coupled with an improving quality of life have made the area an attractive place to call home. Baby boomers attest to that., a website for the age 50-and-older market, listed Columbus with five other U.S. cities as one of the best places to live and retire.

One reason is that Columbus offers a variety of things to do. For example, the site mentioned the city’s many architectural wonders, which drive tourism locally, and offerings that keep baby boomers active and engaged, such as cultural and entertainment venues.

Two newcomers who recently moved to Columbus to retire said they were attracted by the People Trails and vibrant downtown.

The city would not be making these headlines, though, without successful public-private partnerships.

The new Commons, a keystone of a revitalized downtown that cost $18 million to build, was built with private donations and $9 million in public funds. Public-private partnerships also resulted in the Mill Race Park project and Mill Race Center, the city Streetscape brick project, the Cummins Foundation architectural program and so many others.

Columbus has a long history of public-private partnerships. The fact that the city continues to reap accolades based on those efforts shows just how successful and important they are to this community.

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