Yesterday Greater Ohio’s Senior Director of Governmental Affairs, Gene Krebs moderated a Columbus Metropolitan Club Forum, “Grow Smart, Grow Regional: Practical Examples of Collaboration.” There has been much talk at the state and local level of the possibilities and pitfalls of a more regional approach to government services and government itself. Sometimes however, it is not always clear what “regionalism” looks and feels like in reality. This Forum explored “on-the-ground” perspectives from local business, local government, and education leaders of what regionalism and collaboration means in Central Ohio.
The expert panelists included: Bart Anderson, executive director of the Educational Service Center of Central Ohio, Michael Hartley, VP of Government Affairs at the Columbus Chamber of Commerce, and Ginny Barney, partner at the Collective Genius and former city manager of Upper Arlington, a first suburb of Columbus.
All three panelists discussed numerous “back office” efforts underway in the region which are streamlining operations. Some examples offered were the sharing of computer tech support among a number of school districts, small villages contracting municipal services from neighboring villages (instead of hiring their own staff and equipment), and managing payroll and other fiscal operations within a centralized location.
All panelists spoke to the importance of having an attractive region that makes businesses and potential employees move to the area, and all pointed the role regionalism would play in lowering costs, but increasing service quality.
Ginny Barney, along with Bart Anderson and Michael Hartley, warned that central Ohio still has tough conversations and adjustments ahead as we “retrofit” our educational systems and local governments to an upgraded version that more closely aligns with today’s realities. All three were optimistic that Central Ohio’s current regionalism efforts were creating a foundation which would keep our region strong in the future.
This Forum was the first in a yearlong series that will shine a spotlight on current efforts in Ohio and beyond that are creating sustainable communities through collaborative, region-focused, relationships. The next Forum is under development, but will be announced soon.