City Notes: Public-private partnerships enhance quality of life

JENNIFER CHRYSLER
City of New Albany

Among the many attributes that set New Albany apart from other communities are the robust public-private partnerships that have profoundly shaped the quality of life for residents and employees in the city.

A report by McKinsey & Co., “How to Make a City Great,” notes that cities can transform themselves into great places to live by pursuing three strategies: achieving smart growth, doing more with less and winning support for change.

Jennifer Chrysler

New Albany easily checks all three boxes. Its ability to achieve support for change has enabled it to do more with less by forging stakeholder consensus and leveraging partnerships to create the type of civic assets essential to the community’s long-term success and viability.

You don’t have to look far to see the impact of a community with a shared vision and a culture of giving among residents, businesses, civic organizations and local government.

Led by the New Albany Community Foundation, major civic institutions have benefited from private and corporate philanthropy, including the Charlotte P. Kessler New Albany Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts, the Raines Crossing Bridge in Rose Run Park and the Charleen & Charles Hinson Amphitheater, which is expected to be completed next summer.

An equally impressive array of community assets are the result of public-private partnerships that have saved the community millions of dollars while enabling it to fast-track amenities that are notable for a municipality of its size. For instance, the New Albany Co. was instrumental in providing land for the New Albany-Plain Local School Districts' 200-acre Learning Community Campus and the adjacent 86-acre wetlands nature preserve. 

Public-private partnerships also were instrumental in the development of the Philip Heit Center for Healthy New Albany.

While other central Ohio communities often must bear the cost of developing and managing community centers for residents, New Albany was able to enlist Nationwide Children’s Hospital and the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center to offer primary care, sports medicine, physical therapy, orthopedics and integrative medicine. The hospitals have committed to leases of at least 15 years help to offset costs. Additionally, the New Albany Co. donated the land.

The Heit Center has been a catalyst for the growing roster of restaurants, cafes and shops at Market Square.

Public-private partnerships also have a significant impact on economic development in New Albany. Since the New Albany International Business Park was founded in 1998, the city, in partnership with the New Albany Co., has spearheaded millions in public and private investment to establish state-of-the-art assets.

One pivotal example is the city’s agreement with American Electric Power to provide fiber optics for the community.

AEP, which built its mission-critical facility in New Albany in 2008, allowed the city to lease its fiber-optic network instead of spending $7.5 million to build its own.

Today, the business park offers one of the most advanced fiber-optic networks in the country.

AEP’s carrier-neutral high-speed fiber is a key competitive advantage in attracting data centers and mission-critical facilities for some of the world’s leading technology companies, including Facebook, Google, Amazon Web Services, Nationwide Insurance and TJC Cos.

AEP continues to actively partner with the city in attracting other technology enterprises.

In fact, when it comes to economic development, New Albany seldom goes it alone.

The city’s partnerships with One Columbus and JobsOhio have allowed New Albany to compete effectively with much larger municipalities across the country in attracting new business.

The reputation for fast-track permitting and working closely with companies to expedite development has allowed the region and state to compete and win projects in which time is of the essence.

Jennifer Chrysler is New Albany's community-development director.