COLUMBUS, Ohio – Top community and business leaders from across central Ohio joined the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) on March 31 for the 2023 State of the Region, an annual celebration of the region’s shared accomplishments. One of central Ohio’s most significant events of the year, the State of the Region featured plans for leading central Ohio into the future.
Held at the new Hilton Columbus Downtown, nearly 1,000 regional leaders and partners gathered to celebrate the collaborative work being done throughout the region to invest in both necessary and transformative projects.
This year’s theme, Powering Our Region Forward, considered this watershed moment for the region: the historic national investment in infrastructure, and the potential to dramatically impact the prosperity of the region’s residents for generations to come.
“Right in our backyard, the private sector is getting ready for 2050; so should our transportation and city planning. We should follow their example and move past outdated ideas,” said MORPC Executive Director William Murdock. “This means electric vehicles, safety tech, advanced trains, and sophisticated mobility programs, all aimed at creating better places for people. We can fix frustrating transportation mistakes around the region, improve safety and commutes, create new options from trains to trails, build new routes for freight and transit, and be more competitive for businesses and talent.”
MORPC welcomed keynote speaker Deputy Assistant Secretary Charles Small, United States Department of Transportation (USDOT). Small serves as the primary liaison for state, county, and local elected officials, leading outreach and engagement strategy with non-federal stakeholders. In a day which highlighted the future growth of our region, Small’s remarks echoed MORPC’s work toward building a thriving central Ohio.
Small made it clear in his remarks that “every transportation decision is a climate decision, it is a housing decision and an economic development decision. The reason why these decisions are so important is because it’s elemental to what we do and to how we move.”
A highlight of MORPC’s annual signature event was “Welcome to 2050,” an immersive, holographic representation of transportation reimagined. As the region embarks on its 2050 regional transportation plan, a reimagined holographic representation featured trackless trams and passenger rail service making stops in between a hub at the downtown Convention Center, connecting to the east at the John Glenn International Airport, and to the west to the communities of Dublin and Hilliard. The holographic display curated by Holovisn, a global market leader in holographic display technology, is a forward-looking concept and does not represent current plans or proposals. MORPC is the first local governmental agency to partner with Holovisn.
Following the keynote, DriveOhio Executive Director Preeti Choudhary led a panel discussion with top transportation experts from across the nation. The panel included Derrick James, Amtrak; Karina Ricks, Cityfi; Christopher Hart, Hart Solutions LLC; and Thea Ewing, (formerly with MORPC) HNTB. The panel focused on the future of transportation and how central Ohio can prepare for a mode shift, providing more choices to serve everyone.
At the event, Congresswoman Joyce Beatty and Congressman Troy Balderson were on hand to present special honors to recipients as MORPC bestowed the William C. Habig Collaborative Achievement Award to One Columbus; the William H. Anderson Award to Mayor David Scheffler, city of Lancaster; and the Regional Leadership Award to Christie Angel, immediate past president and CEO of YWCA Columbus.
Additionally, MORPC unveiled the results of the preliminary results of the Leaders Listen Survey Series, developed in partnership with The Columbus Dispatch and CHRR at The Ohio State University, to obtain residents’ opinions on experiences and services in the region. The Leaders Listen Series is a set of short surveys produced by MORPC that will periodically invite American Population Panel (APP) members residing within the central Ohio region to share their input. The first survey topic in this series is transportation.
This year’s presenting sponsor was Grove City. To learn more about MORPC’s initiatives and the 2023 State of the Region visit morpc.org/sotr.
Submitted by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.