2020 has been a disaster. COVID 19 not only infected millions of American and likely will kill a couple hundred thousand more but, triggered by police misconduct, a surge of legitimate protests along with unwarranted violence lead to the destruction of neighborhoods and property across the United States. The economic challenge for many communities even before COVID 19 illustrated a clear line between winners and losers. In Franklin County, Ohio, home to mid-sized urban market winner Columbus, before the large negative impact of COVID 19 the county’s overall poverty rate was 16.7%, 29.9% for African Americans, and 25% for children. Rural America has been struggling as they lose population and battle opioid addiction. Public officials, economic development and private sector business and development leaders are searching for ways to address legitimate claims that the American Dream does not seem achievable by a share of the nation.
The defining challenge that local governments have faced during the COVID-19pandemic, and one that they will continue to face for some time, is how to administer critical services in a manner that keeps both the public and government employees safe and healthy. While many services can be delivered via internet/ web-based applications, some residents do not have access in their homes, and others may prefer to interact face-to-face. Still others do not have access to transportation or must rely solely on public transit where it is available. As a result, there is an enduring need for areas inside government facilities where the public and staff can safely interact in person.
Like the rest of the nation, Ohio faces historically high unemployment in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The impact, at its height, has reached more than a million displaced workers, disproportionately touching Ohio’s economically vulnerable populations.
On August 27, 2020, the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) approved plans for Columbia Gas Ohio to move forward with the construction of the Marysville Connector project. This project will bring natural gas from the eastern side of Franklin County to Union County to support the growing needs of Marysville and surrounding communities.
In recent years, state and local economic development teams are getting some questions they might not expect from companies looking for new locations. In addition to information about economic climate and quality of life, businesses want to know more about a community’s track record around environmental sustainability.