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City of Columbus

Photo courtesy of the City of Columbus
Photo courtesy of the City of Columbus 

Building Better Communities is proud to name the City of Columbus, Indiana, as one of three 2013 Primacy of Place Community Awards winners!

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VIDEO: Mayor Kristen Brown on Columbus' exciting placemaking efforts

Mayor Kristen Brown set an ambitious long-term goal of developing Columbus into the “cultural and creative capital of the Midwest.” Her vision inspired the formation of the Columbus Arts District around which she formed a planning committee that invested an entire year gaining public input through open houses, town hall meetings, online surveys, stakeholder conversations, and workshops. Multiple organizations participated in crafting the vision. Former Cummins CEO J. Irwin Miller embraced Winston Churchill’s observation that “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.” Miller believed the cost of mediocrity exceeded that of excellence. As a result, the community has developed a long-standing commitment to embracing the highest standards of quality in the creation of public places. Its successes were recently chronicled by National Public Radio’s “Destination Art” program and National Geographic Traveler’s ranking of Columbus 11th of 109 Top Historic Destinations worldwide – and first in the U.S.   

The Arts District designation was awarded by the Indiana Arts Commission in 2012. One of its key purposes is attracting and retaining a diverse base of talented people to foster continued economic growth. The community’s application emphasizes, “No economically strong region has been found to exist that did not also have a strong cultural base – each sector complementing the other.” Positive growth in the arts district is evident: 240 new residential apartments, $98 million of public-private partnership investment with a ratio of five to one/private to public funding. Cummins, SIHO Insurance, LHP Software, and other growing businesses expanded their operations in the district. Private firm CERTEC Inc. estimated the annual economic impact of the Arts District at $214.5 million.