The city of Westerville again is being recognized as a Smart21 community.

The Intelligent Community Forum recognized Westerville for 2020 on Oct. 22, according to westerville.org.

The Intelligent Community Forum is a global network of cities and regions with a think tank at its center, according to its website, intelligentcommunity.org.

Its mission is to help communities use information and communications technology to create inclusive prosperity, tackle social and governance challenges and enrich their quality of life.

Co-founder Robert Bell said the organization was founded in 1999 as technological change started to impact communities.

Other communities recognized for 2020 include: Adelaide, South Australia, Australia; Binh Duong Smart City, Vietnam; Chiayi City, Taiwan; Curitiba, Parana, Brazil; Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada; Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; Hudson, Ohio; Issy les Moulineaux, France; Leeds, West Yorkshire, United Kingdom; Markham, Ontario, Canada; Matsu, Taiwan; Newmarket, Ontario, Canada; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; Prospect, South Australia, Australia; Rochester, New York; Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia; Tallinn, Estonia; Wellington, New Zealand; Whanganui, New Zealand; and Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, according to the ICF website.

Jason Bechtold, Westerville's economic-development director, said the award doesn't necessarily help Westerville specifically in terms of gaining funding, but said the award has a positive economic effect on the city.

"It's definitely showcasing Westerville on the international stage," he said.

He said the metrics of the award show Westerville has a talented workforce, which is appealing to potential employers and companies looking to come to the city.

The innovation that the award highlights, he said, is something that businesses look for when deciding where to locate.

"Having a community that supports innovation is something that businesses are drawn to," he said.

Christa Dickey, spokesperson for the city, said in 2019, Westerville became the first city in the U.S. to achieve both the Smart21 status and Top7 on first application.

The Smart21 announcement is the first stage in ICF's annual Intelligent Community Awards cycle, according to the ICF website. Based on Intelligent Community Index questionnaires submitted by communities, ICF selects 21 finalists with the potential to become one of the Top7 Intelligent Communities of the Year, according to the website.

The cities of Columbus and Dublin previously have been recognized as Smart21 communities, according to a notice on the city's website.

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