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League examines, reacts to latest comparison of cities

Program at Whetstone library considers latest 'benchmark' report

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Now that the report is out, what's anybody going to do about it?

That's what members of the League of Women Voters of Metropolitan Columbus would like to know.

The organization's land-use planning committee will sponsor a program Tuesday, Feb. 25, at the Whetstone branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library. The subject is "Benchmarking Central Ohio 2013," the latest in an ongoing series of reports prepared by Community Research Partners under the sponsorship and with funding from the Columbus Foundation, Columbus Partnership and United Way of Central Ohio. The reports compare Columbus with similarly sized American cities in categories such as health, income, education and transportation.

The League of Women Voters program, which also is sponsored by the library, will run from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Featured speakers will be Aaron Schill from Community Research Partners, Dawn Tyler Lee of United Way, and the Columbus Foundation's Michael Wilkos.

Benchmarking Central Ohio 2013, the fifth in the series, first was discussed during an August forum at the Columbus Metropolitan Club.

Members of the league's land-use planning committee hope the program will stimulate interest in the report, said Judith Y. Brachman of Clintonville, former co-chairwoman of the panel and an organizer of the Feb. 25 program.

"First of all, it's to continue to educate the public for those who may not have seen the earlier stories about the report," she said last week. "In addition, we would like to stimulate conversation about the report and how to provide options to deal with the issues that were highlighted."

Columbus fared well in some categories in the latest benchmark report, but not as well in others. The city ranked ninth out of the 15 cities studied in median household income and third in adjusted per-capita income.

However, Columbus compared poorly with the other 14 cities in areas such as the percentage of people who live in poverty, percentage of people on public assistance and in health indicators such as obesity.

"The league is particularly interested in informing people about the ways that Columbus and central Ohio intend to address the problems, especially poverty, that are listed in the report," member Mary Kaul of Westerville wrote in an email announcing the program.

Brachman has a different approach to reaching the same goal.

"I really think that we can look positively at the ways we can use the good qualities that we have in ways that are even more productive," she said. "If we can pull everyone together, we can use those positive aspects to focus on those areas where we do have challenges.

"Being Buckeyes, we arise to challenges and we always think we can do better and be the best."

The other benchmark cities are Austin, Texas; Charlotte, N.C.; Chicago; Cincinnati; Cleveland; Indianapolis; Jacksonville, Fla.; Kansas City, Mo.; Louisville, Ky.; Milwaukee; Minneapolis-St. Paul; Nashville, Tenn.; Portland, Ore.; Raleigh, N.C.; and San Diego.

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