It was a very Clintonville affair: the monthly luncheon of the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce held in the Clintonville Woman's Club with Clintonville native and resident Andrew J. Ginther, the president of city council.

It was a very Clintonville affair: the monthly luncheon of the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce held in the Clintonville Woman's Club with Clintonville native and resident Andrew J. Ginther, the president of city council.

Naturally, the subject of Clintonville came up a time or two.

Ginther called it "one of Columbus' greatest neighborhoods" during remarks last week that extolled Ohio's capital city as having weathered difficult economic times better than most.

The Democratic council president is running for re-election this fall on a slate with fellow Democratic incumbents Hearcel F. Craig, Zachary J. Klein and Michelle M. Mills. They face opposition from two Republicans, Matt Ferris and Daryl Hennessy, as well as two candidates from the Libertarian Party, Bob Bridges and Mark Noble.

Much of Ginther's speech at the chamber gathering focused on Columbus 2020, which is described on its website as "a bold initiative that will position Columbus to become the fastest-growing economy in the country."

A mere 60 years ago, Ginther said, Columbus had 250,000 residents. The most recent census set that figure at 800,000, he said, a growth rate that would make most major cities green with envy.

Job growth, rather than population growth, is the major focus of Columbus 2020, an economic-development of the steering group composed of chief executive officers from major companies in the central Ohio area that's called the Columbus Partnership.

One of the chief goals of the initiative, Ginther told chamber members, is to create 150,000 new jobs by 2020 and increase the per-capita income in Columbus by 30 percent. He called the Clintonville chamber and similar organizations throughout the city a "critical part to our long-term strategy."

Ginther said that 14 of the country's largest companies call Ohio home, while Columbus can boast of having not only Ohio State University and the largest research and development operation in the United States in Battelle Memorial Institute, but also a number of major medical institutions.

Achieving the goals set forth by Columbus 2020, the council president said, will mean attracting and retaining young professionals. Columbus is second only to Boston in the number of undergraduate students, Ginther pointed out, but that doesn't ensure they will remain in the city.

Young professionals today move to a city where they want to live and then look for a job, as opposed to moving to where work is available, according to Ginther.

"That's why quality of life is so important," he added.

"We're excited about the future," Ginther said in concluding his remarks. "We have a bold plan."

During a question-and-answer period, the council president was asked if he had heard of any interest being expressed in the now-vacant Clintonville Electric property on North High Street just south of North Broadway.

"There's nothing concrete that I can report to you," Ginther replied, adding, however, that the city is "willing to throw the kitchen sink" into incentives to redevelop the site and that it was a priority of Mayor Michael B. Coleman to have the right kind of project occupy that space.

Asked about increased parking along North High Street to help business owners, Ginther acknowledged it was a thorny issue.

"We've got our work cut out for us," he said.

It's an issue not only in Clintonville but also in other parts of the city, Ginther added. Traffic engineers, by concentrating primarily on moving traffic, used to "drive neighborhood development" with their decisions, he said. This sometimes resulted in one-way streets that eliminated a "neighborhood feel," Ginther said. He pointed to Gay Street downtown, now open to two-way traffic and the scene of both business and residential development, as evidence that trend can be reversed.

"You can't reverse 20 years of practice overnight," Ginther said.