One of the state’s oldest local economic development organizations is marking a milestone and touting its impact. Formerly known as the Columbus Economic Development Board, the Greater Columbus Economic Development Corp. also has a new name and logo as it turns 40. The group says it has helped bring 66 new companies that currently employ more than 7,600 to the area and has supported over 300 corporate expansions. In all, the GCEDC says $2.6 billion has been invested in Columbus and Bartholomew County over the last four decades.
President Jason Hester says the organization will continue to play to its strengths. "We have, for instance, the highest-concentration of mechanical engineers in the nation and so we continue to pursue engineering and R&D services within the greater Columbus area. Very strong in automotive components and suppliers, so those play to our core strengths." He says the organization and regional leaders are also targeting more diverse targets, including pharmaceutical manufacturing, additional types of engineering service opportunities and "back office" administrative-related business.
The nonprofit’s new name, Hester says, represents an evolution over the last 40 years. "We have always been about making the Columbus area greater through increased economic opportunities for our residents and businesses, and we serve all areas of Bartholomew County; so, that’s two reasons for inclusion of ‘Greater Columbus’ in our name," he said in a statement. "Replacing ‘Board’ with ‘Corporation’ also more accurately reflects that we are an independent non-profit corporation and not a division of local government."
During an unveiling of the new name and logo, Indiana University President Michael McRobbie also detailed a master’s in architecture program that would involve the IU Center for Art + Design in downtown Columbus. The school’s board of trustees has already approved the program and it awaits final clearance from the state.