On Wednesday, Louis Zacharilla, co-founder of the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF), announced the organization's seven finalists for the 2013 Intelligent Community of the Year. The announcement was made during the final day of the Pacific Telecommunications Council's annual meeting in Honolulu.
The seven finalists -- Columbus, Ohio; Oulu, Finland; Stratford, Canada; Taichung City, Taiwan; Tallinn, Estonia; Taoyuan County, Taiwan; and Toronto, Canada -- "provide a model of 21st Century economic and social development, using information and communications technology to power growth, address social challenges and preserve and promote culture," said an ICF statement. Two other U.S. cities -- Mitchell, S.D.; and Philadelphia -- were also in contention for top seven.
Zacharilla says the perception of Columbus, Ohio, and the new reality are very different. "The perception is Ohio is in the industrial rust belt, largely irrelevant, not really doing much, living on old foundry fumes. That's not at all the case," he said. "It is a very hip city, and their incubator, TechColumbus, is literally putting out all kinds of new businesses." In addition, said Zacharilla, the city has effectively reversed "brain drain," so highly trained and intelligent people stay in the area versus move elsewhere.
Columbus has a net in-migration of new people for the first time in decades. "They have created 29,000 jobs in the last two years," he said, "You don't associate Ohio with creating jobs at that rate. I believe that as Ohio goes, so goes the nation, and the good news is that Columbus is going pretty well."