Just a week after the Cleveland Cavaliers brought much needed good news to the citizens of Ohio, the US Department of Transportation has selected another Ohio location as its City of the Future. The winner this time is Columbus, which hasn’t had much in the way of notoriety since the movie Goodbye, Columbus appeared in movie theaters in the summer of 1969.
Columbus, which is home to the Ohio State University, is the winner of the Smart City Challenge. It will now be the center of innovation in the fields of electric mobility, and connected, autonomous transportation. The city will benefit from $140 million in grants and other benefits.
Part of that noney will be used to install charging infrastructure for electric vehicles. The city is also planning three autonomous shuttles to run between a new transit center and a retail district within the city. In addition to helping people and goods get around more efficiently, it will also provide a wealth of data and new ideas that communities around the world will find useful in solving environmental, economic, and social issues.
$40 million comes directly from the DOT. Vulcan Inc., a company founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen, will supply another $10 million. Vulcan’s mission is to invest in programs to “solve some of the biggest global issues.” Columbus raised an additional $90 million from other private partners to help it achieve its goals.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther says, “Our collaboration between public, private, and nonprofit sectors is the perfect example of how we lift up our residents and connect all communities. Smart Columbus will deliver an unprecedented multimodal transportation system that will not only benefit the people of central Ohio, but potentially all mid-sized cities.”
Columbus has thriving business and research communities. In its video pitch for the competition, it points out that it is the fastest growing city in the Midwest, leading the way in both population and job growth. It beat out Austin, Denver, Kansas City, Pittsburgh, Portland, and San Francisco to win the final competition.