Currently, Columbus is the third largest city in Georgia. Because of its location and size, it has been a regional attraction for people seeking jobs. City leaders, business leaders, and citizens have continued to work together to accomplish the goals of the community. These partnerships have created legacies to be proud of such as the Chattahoochee Riverwalk, the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts, and The Springer Opera House. Our Historic District and the Total System Services Office Park complex are also projects that resulted from these partnerships. Many of these facilities are the result of redeveloping formerly industrial/contaminated sites. One by one, the City and its citizens have identified and revitalized key locations that were distressed, turning an old mill town into a vibrant destination City with a very diverse economy.
However, there are some areas still to be considered. The most pressing of these is a distressed area that extends beyond single parcels and is located where it is not obvious to casual visitors or even to many City residents. This is an area of the City where people worked in the numerous factories and production plants that were once the City's hallmark. The area's appearance has declined to the point that businesses and lenders are hesitant about continuing to support it. Many of its citizens feel uncomfortable outside of their homes at night because of the activities that take place in their neighborhoods. This industrial corridor was once active, with neighborhoods within walking distance of many industries and mills. During the period from 1960 to the 1990s, many industries closed, because they could no longer compete with foreign labor. The rail service, which was once critical for business development, became a hindrance to new development. New industries have decided that it is easier and safer to develop on sites outside of the City.
The City has declared this area as an Enterprise Zone (EZ) and is making it a priority for redevelopment. To begin this effort, the City has obtained a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency for the "Columbus Enterprise Zone Brownfield Initiative." This project was funded to conduct preliminary activities in preparation for economic redevelopment. The City's ultimate goal is to create economically viable and sustainable mixed-use developments within the EZ that will provide opportunities for small businesses to grow, increased employment, enhanced property values, and a safe and healthy environment for those who work and live in the area.