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Why I Love Columbus: Columbus Understands the Art of Business

in Tom Katzenmeyer 3 min read

There is an art to great business.

There is business behind great art.

I love cities that can see both, and it’s one of the reasons I love Columbus as much as I do.

Columbus is fortunate to be part of a big (and growing) arts market. The nonprofit arts in Columbus generate $226 million in economic activity and provide 8,500 jobs. When you add in the for-profit sector, you have more than 13,000 employees and almost 3,000 businesses whose main focus is creative (including advertising, audio visual production and more).

Outside of the creative sector, Columbus’ other diverse industries understand the importance of arts and culture and are willing to invest money and time to ensure that creative enterprises thrive in our city. Not every city has a Hilton that features local artists’ works or fine dining restaurants like the Refectory, which partners with ProMusica and Opera Columbus, or corporate partners like AEP, L Brands or Cardinal Health that remain committed to the cause of cultivating the arts scene in Columbus.

What makes Columbus truly distinctive is that there are hundreds of businesses that find ways to support local artists. These businesses run the gamut of size and field—law firms, healthcare providers, media companies, restaurants, construction firms.  Just as diverse as the industries that support the arts, are the ways in which they do so. (Check out the 2015 GCAC Community Arts Partnership Award Nominees and Winners for a great example of the vital way these organizations step up to support the arts here.)

On the surface, many of these companies do not have a direct connection to art; dig a little bit and you’ll see how art is part of what made them, who they are now, and where they want to go with Columbus in the future. This kind of wide-ranging support is something to celebrate.

I love how great art brings great people to Columbus. As Columbus businesses develop, the need to identify, recruit and retain talent will only grow. High quality candidates have repeatedly said a vibrant arts and culture scene brings and keeps people in Columbus. A recent American Planning Association report highlighted “The recognition of a community’s arts and culture assets (and the marketing of them) is an important element of economic development.”

Because the arts scene is so entrenched in our community, I don’t know if we fully see just how far we’ve come in the last 10 years. When people come to Columbus and see stories about Arnold Schwarzenegger filming a movie on the front page the Columbus Dispatch, it helps them realize Columbus is a destination location. Continuing arts development helps bring and keep talent here.

If you need another example, I hope you will take a minute to check out one of our newest partnerships with the Columbus Chamber. It’s called The Art of Business, and you can see the results for yourself online right now.

The premise was simple. Ten talented Columbus artists were paired with quotes by 10 successful Columbus CEOs.  The artists were given a blank canvas to create works of art from words of wisdom.

I had absolutely no idea what the end result would look like. But the project is perfectly Columbus, and I’m thrilled with the finished pairings.

Over the last three years as president and CEO of the Arts Council, I’ve learned when you get local people together with shared local interests, amazing things can happen. The Art of Business is a great example of that theory in action.

So where will Columbus go next? It’s a blank slate with endless possibilities. There are countless opportunities in both art and business, and the creativity of our leaders in both worlds is what makes Columbus unique.


— Tom Katzenmeyer, Keep up with Tom’s adventures on Twitter: @tomkatzenmeyer