You can also see it more tangibly on the ground. In January, the Columbus City Council elected its first openly gay president, Shannon Hardin, who is also African-American. The city, he says, is full of people like him.
"Columbus is thriving because we are smart and we're open. We're diverse. We're a city that's on the move. We are growing," Hardin says. "But we don't want it just to be big. We want to be better."
"We believe that with the diversity that is coming in, with the culture that we are creating, with the strong job market and with the collaborative spirit of public-private partnerships that we will get there," Hardin added.
In other words, the city’s political and cultural environment is tied to its economy in Hardin’s eyes. And in an era when much of the political talk, particularly among Trump supporters, is centered on workers who have been “left behind,” Columbus stands in stark contrast.
Young, educated and wealthy — and only growing more so — it represents pockets of economic winners, even in one of the industrial Midwest’s crucial "Trump states."
To the extent Columbus has economic troubles, they are largely coming in the form of too many companies and people wanting to move downtown. The city’s real challenges come with managing growth. Too many people and businesses want to move downtown and a lack of parking is now a challenge as the city tries to determine how it can improve its public transit system — and get more people to use it.
Dayton: Looking for What’s Next
Those are the kinds of problems they would love to have a short drive on I-70 in Dayton, where streets are lined with buildings waiting to be refurbished, including the massive Dayton Arcade, more than 300,000 square feet of retail space that closed in 1990.
Behind the structure’s castle-like facade is a crumbling interior waiting to be rebuilt. There’s an ambitious $70 million proposal to turn the building into an innovation space — partnering with the University of Dayton and local artists and retailers — but financing for the deal has not yet closed and there have been several false starts in the past.