NCLM Southern City, Volume 72, Issue 3, 2022

SOUTHERN CITY QUARTER 3 2022 34 “Right now, Columbus is top of the world,” says Kevin R. Cox, a geography professor at Ohio State University and the author of several books looking at the intersection of geography, growth, and local political power. His latest is “Boomtown Columbus: Ohio’s Sunbelt City and How Developers Got Their Way.” As gathered from the book title, Cox sees Columbus and its growth as comparable to those of the booming Sunbelt cities of the South, like Raleigh and Charlotte. The book also doesn’t shy away from exploring any negatives associated with the city’s growth, including uneven effects for residents. But he shows that what has been good for the city has been good for a large segment of the business community. continued from page 33 “American cities are incredibly variable,” Cox said in a telephone interview. “In Columbus, they (the developers) needed the services and the cities needed to annex to pay for those services.” Part of how Columbus did that was by adopting a policy in the mid-1950s, under noted Mayor Jack Sensenbrenner, only allowing the extension water and sewer service into an area if it was annexed into the city. A combination of other policies adopted at the state level affecting the viability of suburban sewage treatment methods and school district growth allowed the growth of Columbus to continue into the 1960s and through today. Today, like Raleigh and Charlotte, Columbus is attracting high-tech jobs and businesses. Chip-maker Intel announced earlier this year that it would invest $20 billion and employ 3,000 people in the city. Meanwhile, Cincinnati and Cleveland became landlocked due to a variety of factors. As older industrial cities, suburban towns begin to encircle them, and policies and infrastructure needs at the time did not dictate the same use of water and sewer as a tool to both encourage and plan for growth. Geography, with Lake Erie blocking Cleveland to the north, and the Ohio River and the Kentucky line blocking Cincinnati to the south, also played a role. Regardless of the reasons, the results speak for themselves. Cox cites them in his book: From 1990 to 2000, Cincinnati’s population decreased by 9.4 percent; Cleveland saw a 5.4 percent population Keeping the Pace With the Urban Footprint The arrangements have been good for both sides. Developers enhance the value of their property with city utilities and other services; cities keep pace with their urban footprint and are able to maintain service levels by growing their property tax base. And orderly and planned growth has been the result.