Central Ohio IFMA Chapter Members Discuss Insight2050

     Last year, Forbes magazine named the Columbus Metropolitan area one of the top places in the nation to expand business and careers.

     Columbus, and areas surrounding the city, have been touted as some of the fastest growing communities in the United States.

     But all of this is old news to most of us who live in Central Ohio. It’s something we proudly point out to anyone looking to relocate to the area.

     Well, apparently, that’s quite a few. Dramatic changes are expected to occur in the Central Ohio region. In fact, over 500,000 new people are estimated to move into the region, raising the total number of residents to approximately 2.5 million by 2030.

     And those figures do not stand alone. Significant change is anticipated for all communities of the region in coming years.

     One group has seized on that opportunity for growth, and is aiding local communities in planning for the best, most efficient and resourceful communities in the years to come. The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (or MORPC) is a voluntary association of Central Ohio governments and regional organizations that envisions and embraces innovative directions in transportation, energy, housing, land use, the environment and economic prosperity. Dating back to 1943, MORPC is made up of rural, urban and suburban communities that comprise Central Ohio’s fastest growing areas, reaching across cities, villages, townships, and counties to improve the quality of life for all residents.

     MORPC’s mission is to collaborate and develop bold new strategies that will continue to make the region stand out both nationally and globally. It collects and analyzes data for Central Ohio regions in an effort to plan successfully and collaborativly for the next thirty years.

   On Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2016, more than two dozen Central Ohio IFMA Chapter members gathered at the Columbus Dispatch Activity Center to hear from MORPC itself, and how the area’s growth will affect local businesses and their facility planning. The initiative is called Insight2050, a collaborative effort between ULI Columbus, Columbus 2020 and MORPC.

     “We have over 60 members representing the 15-county region here in Central Ohio,” said Jennifer Noll, associate planner with MORPC. “We do a lot of mission-driven work in an effort to support our communities… with the types of projects that are going to help them sustain a high quality of life for their residents.”

     MORPC originally anticipated that Central Ohio would grow by some 500,000 people by the year 2050. But due to recent data collected the area will reach that benchmark early – by 2029 – if the current trends in population growth continue. That also means that by 2050, growth in the region could be on track to add one million new people instead of half of that figure as originally anticipated.

     “Growth is not unusual for our region,” admitted Noll. But how it looks is different. Over the next few decades, Baby Boomers are becoming empty nesters, and millennials are now getting older – with Generation X right behind them. Can everyone live and thrive together? Absolutely, according to Noll. But choices are important in order to retain residents throughout their age cycle.

     Noll said that walkable neighborhoods are important to all of today’s age groups, as well as integrated and mixed-use environments, more transportation sources, smaller residents with less maintenance, and mixed-age mixed-income communities.

     And because people often choose their community when relocating (rather than letting the job be the deciding factor), communities – and how they look and feel – really matter.

     As a result of Phase 1 of Insight2050, four growth scenarios were formed. They range from a depiction of ‘Past Trends’ to more ‘Focused Growth’ and ‘Maximum Infill’ options. While the scenarios do not prescribe any specific solution, they lay out different ways the region can grow and accommodate projected growth. More and better information brings more people and more interests to the table, helps people understand the impacts of their choices, and leads to more sustainable decisions, Noll pointed out.

     In examining the four scenarios, focusing mainly one only two, Noll concentrated on areas that would affect facility managers the most, including energy use, building water use, and greenhouse gas emissions.

     Reaching out to groups like the Central Ohio IFMA Chapter is all part of Phase II of Insight2050. The second phase was introduced at MORPC’s annual State of the Region last April and provides local governments with tools that will assist them with their local planning activities and prepares communities for future (age) demographic changes. Phase II includes four components: outreach, peer learning, Best Practices and development resources.

     In order to better serve those MORPC is trying to reach, further help is on the way – in the classroom. The Insight2050 Academy, as the classes are called, is a unique workshop series specifically designed to provide elected decision-makers, appointed leaders, and economic development officials with the tools to guide community conversations and make informed decisions. Trusted leaders in the fields of economic development, real estate development, public relations and planning will lead six workshop-style classes designed to provide valuable up-to-date information through peer exchanges and dynamic engagement.

   The first Insight2050, held earlier in September, was deemed a success with more to come.

    To learn more about Insight2015, read the reports, consider analysis, and examine data further, visit