Local resident gets innovation award
Grove City resident Chester Jourdan and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission were honored this month with an innovation award at the TechColumbus Innovation Awards ceremony.
More than 50 judges picked MORPC from among 16 nominees to receive an Innovation Award for Innovation in Non-Profit Service Delivery for the new Franklin County Location Based Response System — a centralized database of addresses and road centerline information.
"It's really an award that went to our staff here at MORPC," Jourdan said. "(LRBS) allows us to add address and road data that can be used for government services as well as safety and 911 emergency services."
The Geographic Information System file is linked so municipalities can update the map themselves. The information will be valuable to emergency personnel, among other agencies, Jourdan said.
"Their services and response times would be based on that particular data," he said.
"This is just the first phase in a long-term project that we think is going to have significant benefits for central Ohio."
Jourdan, who joined MORPC in December 2006, credited his coworkers at MORPC for their work on developing LRBS.
"It's a great collaboration between the staff and our local community," he said.
Jourdan, 51, moved to Grove City in 2006 when he secured a job as executive director of MORPC. He and his wife, Cheryl, are both originally from Texas and his older daughter, Casey Stafford, still lives there.
"I grew up in a rural community much smaller than Grove City and my wife grew up about an hour from there," Jourdan said.
He earned a bachelor's at Stephen F. Austin State University and a master's in urban and regional affairs from the University of Texas at Arlington.
He worked for the U.S. Department of Transportation in Texas and has held various positions in Atlanta and Washington, D.C., before returning to Texas, where he led the South East Texas Regional Planning Commission.
That's where Jourdan was when the search firm hired by MORPC contacted him. Within a few weeks, he'd been interviewed by the search committee — which then included Grove City mayor Richard "Ike" Stage — and was hired.
"By the time I got to the airport (after the second interview), they called and offered me the job," Jourdan said.
He soon moved into an apartment in the Marble Cliff area while his younger daughter, Callie, finished out the school year in Texas.
Stage was a big part of the reason Jourdan and his family settled on Grove City as their eventual home.
"He was very gracious to us. He picked us up at the airport and showed us around. He was a great advocate and a great champion of Grove City," Jourdan said.
Callie is now a fifth-grader at Park Street Intermediate School. The city's similarity to other towns that the Jourdan family had lived in also made it a good fit, he said.
Jourdan is positive about the future of central Ohio and the work that MORPC is doing.
"There's a lot of challenges facing our region and our state, but we think that central Ohio is positioned to do well in the future. We have a lot of assets and strengths to build from."
The key, Jourdan said, is to recognize that Columbus' competition isn't Cincinnati or Cleveland. It's Beijing and Brazil.
"We need to make sure we're investing in things that matter. We're investing in technologies, investing in building an infrastructure that allows us to attract and keep the best and the brightest here," Jourdan said. "We have to compete for people, capital and resources and we have to make sure our community is in a position to do exactly that."