We're pretty invested in the Columbus business here at Alive. And so we've been paying a lot of attention to all the talk of establishing a better brand for the city.
Everyone's trying to figure out the best way to market our city - some way to convince a national audience that we're as cool as we know we are.
No, we don't have that magic, perfect marketing slogan for Columbus. (Though I'm personally fond of the hilarious but rejected "Columbus: We are so not Ohio.") But when the Alive staff sits down to select our People to Watch each year, with help from reader nominations, it's definitely something that weighs on our minds. In the end, we're championing the people we think can build Columbus' brand.
Of course, the problem with a quick and memorable slogan is that it inevitably focuses on one great aspect of the city and ignores all the rest of what's awesome. It's missing the whole point of what makes a city great.
So our picks honor our flourishing indie arts scene - two of this year's winners are part of innovative local arts collectives, Nick Dekker of the quirky Wild Goose Creative and Couchfire Collective's Adam Brouillette, who's also on the team working to turn the old Wonder Bread factory into a creative mecca.
But they also celebrate our vibrant foodie culture. Prolific blogger Bethia Woolf is introducing the city to everything from West Side taco trucks to hole-in-the-wall ethnic spots through alt.eats.columbus and her new culinary tour venture, Columbus Food Adventures.
Talented chef Magellan Moore is preparing to jump into the Short North dining scene with the soon-to-open Hubbard Grill, while Mike Minnix plans to help local restaurants become more eco-friendly through his recycling and consulting company, Eartha Limited.
Brady Konya and Ryan Lang, on the other hand, are establishing Columbus as a great place to drink. They recently launched the state's first micro-distillery, Middle West Spirits, and are earning rave reviews for Oyo, their hand-crafted artisan vodka.
And you know we're big proponents of Columbus music - nobody understands that more than Jacob Wooten, a longtime fixture on the tattooing scene, whose new club Kobo is giving talented bands another place to play.
Columbus' locally owned shops and businesses also play a part in our city's brand, and young entrepreneur Timothy Wolf Starr is rallying residents behind them through his Small Business Beanstalk discount programs.
Outside of the creative class, the Columbus Chamber's Robbie Banks works tirelessly to connect young professionals with the resources they need to get things done, while TyKia Wright runs a nonprofit group that helps local companies attract career-ready minority and disabled students.
We think all that adds up to a pretty cool city.