Who to Watch: Central Ohio

A look at the men and women poised to shape our region in 2017 and beyond

The 2017 Smart Business Who to Watch represents an exciting, talented group of people who are strong leaders with an ability to set goals, develop plans and get things done. Some of the names you’ve heard, while others may not be as familiar. But rest assured that each person is poised to make a difference and build something that has the potential to make the Central Ohio region a better place to live and work.

As we thought about the men and women most likely to influence what happens in 2017, we considered a few factors: Does this person have a platform to make things happen? Is there a pattern of accomplishment that suggests this individual is positioned to have an even bigger impact in 2017? Is this impact likely to stretch beyond this person’s organization and possibly affect positive change for the entire region?

As you scroll through this list, think about the goals you’ve set for yourself and your business in the year ahead. While 2016 was a good one for Columbus, the calendar has flipped and a new year has begun. What will you do to make 2017 the best year ever?







Matt Wald, CEO
Columbus Collaboratory

Columbus Collaboratory, a collaboration of American Electric Power, Battelle, Cardinal Health, Huntington Bank, L Brands, Nationwide and OhioHealth, focuses on innovation in the areas of advanced analytics and cybersecurity.

The team works to develop solutions to complex challenges that are common to many industries, including banking and insurance, health care and pharmaceutical, retail, energy and research.

In 2016, it held more than 120 working group sessions, representing more than 1,600 collaboration hours in which different areas of the member companies came together to learn, discuss issues and needs, and create mutually-beneficial work products. Topics covered included best use of publicly available data, customer modeling techniques, security event detection, threat intel sharing and cloud access service brokers. The Collaboratory also:

  • Created prototypes to improve the customer experience using IBM Watson services.
  • Released CognizeR, an open source R extension that accelerated access to IBM cognitive services for the data scientist community.
  • Built partnerships with The Ohio State University, Columbus State, Columbus 2020, The Columbus Region and Ohio Third Frontier, as well as a talent pipeline of approximately 500.

This year, the Collaboratory looks to continue to deliver value-added services to its member companies and the technology community. The company also will keep building partnerships and releasing to the open-source community.

The second class of its Cyber Rotation Program has also begun. The program puts junior-level cybersecurity analysts through rotations with the seven-member companies, plus the Collaboratory and one training week, with the goal of not only expanding the talent pipeline for participating companies, but also increasing the likelihood of job success for the analysts.
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Melisa Miller, executive vice president and president
Alliance Data’s card services business

The Columbus-based credit card services business has opened two of its three new buildings in its 550,000-square-foot office complex near Easton. The final building is slated to open this fall.

The company is one of the biggest employers in the area, with more than 3,000 staff, according to Columbus2020.

Since 2010, Central Ohio has already benefited from the company’s growth with more than 1,000 new jobs.

The Columbus operation runs Alliance Data’s branded credit card business that includes over 40 million active cardholders across more than 150 brands.
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Brett Kaufman, CEO
Kaufman Development

Kaufman has developed, leased and/or sold over 10,000 homes and a variety of commercial, retail, land and office projects over the past 17 years.

Many have been high-profile downtown projects, such his co-development of 250 High, a 12-story mixed-use high rise, with the Daimler Group Inc. The frequent partners are also working on a $60 million, mixed-use building, Two25 Commons, a block away.

With construction expected to begin early this year, it will include 118 residential units, five floors of office space, three ground-floor retail units and a pedestrian bridge to the Commons Parking Garage.

Kaufman also is developing part of the iconic LeVeque Tower into apartments and condos with Developer Bob Meyer, which is expected to be available this spring. He recently announced plans for a Franklinton project.
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Martin Dickie & James Watt, co-founders

The much-awaited BrewDog craft brewery is expected to open in Canal Winchester this year. The 42 acres will eventually boast a 100,000-square-foot brewery, BrewDog’s U.S. offices, a visitor center, craft beer restaurant and taproom.

One perk of becoming an investor in the brewery’s unique Equity for Punks crowdfunding initiative is that shareholders and one guest are invited to attend the Annual General Mayhem, BrewDog’s spin on the traditional business gathering. In September, more than 1,000 of the initial wave of U.S. investors visited the facility for business talks, tastings, beer, music and food.

The brewery acquired 4,000 investors and raised $3.5 million to date, all of which will fund expansion into the American market and establish a series of BrewDog bars across the U.S.
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Nicholas Akins, chairman, president and CEO
American Electric Power

American Electric Power is one of the top utilities in America with a nearly $31 billion market value. AEP, which serves nearly 5.4 million customers in 11 states, also was named one of 24/7 Wall St.’s top 10 stocks to own for a decade.

At AEP’s November 2016 analyst event, Akins and his management team introduced plans to invest up to $1 billion in contracted renewables over the next two years, via AEP Renewables and AEP Onsite Partners, with an emphasis on wind generation.

AEP has been a major player in the restructuring of Ohio’s energy market.

In December, the company made organizational and executive leadership changes to support its strategic goals and executive succession plans.
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David Campisi, CEO and president
Big Lots

Big Lots, a discount retailer that operates more than 1,400 stores in 47 states, is showing growth in a competitive retail landscape, thanks to its furniture financing programs and food and consumables categories, according to Zacks Equity Research.

Big Lots also is reportedly looking to redesign its stores and will test the new look in a few markets in this year.

Last year, the company and Campisi announced a relocation of the corporate headquarters to Hamilton Quarter, just outside of New Albany. The 15-year lease agreement contemplates a new four-story, 300,000-square-foot building on approximately 25 acres, with a targeted move-in date of late 2018. Approximately 800 associates would make the move.

Big Lots would continue to operate its distribution center on the west side of Columbus.
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Dave Kaufman, president and CEO
Motorists Insurance Group

Motorists Insurance Group’s Kaufman recently announced a nearly $20 million investment to begin developing its downtown real estate holdings. The company plans to develop mixed-use residential and commercial retail buildings overlooking the Topiary Park on the corner of Oak Street and Washington Avenue.

The four-step plan calls for the construction of five buildings, including landscaping and improvements to adjacent properties.

The phased approach begins with the development of an 82,960-square-foot building with apartments, a small retail area and more than 100 parking spaces. A pedestrian promenade will be developed on the south edge.

Motorists’ long-range plans include investing over $62 million to develop four additional buildings.

The first development phase will begin iearly this year, with completion expected by spring 2019.
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Health care

Edward Lamb, president and CEO
Mount Carmel Health System

Lamb stepped in as Mount Carmel Health System’s new president and CEO this past November.

For the past five years, Lamb has led IASIS Healthcare’s Western Division, where he was responsible for health care operations in Arizona, Colorado and Utah.

Lamb joins Mount Carmel in the midst of significant transformation within the health system, which includes modernization and improvements at existing facilities and expansion into needed areas of care — both geographically and by service line.
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Dr. Steve Allen, CEO
Nationwide Children’s Hospital

Nationwide Children’s Hospital has announced the details of a $730 million investment in its next phase of growth.

Over the next six years, it will complete 11 projects focusing on expanding care, enhancing research, building infrastructure and transforming behavioral health, Allen wrote in the 2015-2016 annual report. A centerpiece of the expansion is a new freestanding Behavioral Health Pavilion.

Nationwide Children’s also founded a new Institute for Genomic Medicine and continues to invest in its genomics program and personnel.
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Public Sector/Government

Mayor Andrew J. Ginther
City of Columbus

In his first year in office, Mayor Ginther focused on several areas.

The first body-worn cameras were deployed in the police department, with Phase I of the rollout completed in January.

High-quality early childhood education is another of the mayor’s focuses. The Linden Park Neighborhood Early Childhood Education Center opened in October. In addition, the city partnered with The Ohio State University for the Early Head Start Partnership Program, where 100 early childhood educators in Columbus will be able to obtain a bachelor’s degree for free.

Mayor Ginther also established the Department of Neighborhoods, appointing Carla Williams-Scott as the first director. The department is focused on providing a single access point for residents.

This year will see a continued focus on neighborhoods with an expansion of CelebrateOne to eight priority neighborhoods to help reduce infant mortality. The Office of Diversity and Inclusion will conduct a diversity study to determine if there is a racial and/or gender disparity in city spending and to what degree should Columbus implement measures and tools to eliminate that disparity.

The Michael B. Coleman Governmental Center will be completed ithis year, giving contractors a one-stop shop for building and zoning, public service, development and some public utility offices. And, of course, this year will include the continuation of Smart Columbus.
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Greater Columbus Convention Center

The Greater Columbus Convention Center’s $125 million expansion and renovation are expected to be complete in July.

The 100,000-square-foot expansion will bring the total space to 1.8 million square feet. It includes nearly 37,000 square feet of new exhibit space, 74 meeting rooms, outdoor event plazas and green spaces, and an enclosed walkway to the new Goodale Garage.

As of the end of 2016, 70 percent of the work and 16 of the 22 construction phases were complete. A new caterer was also announced and the transformed food court and shops, now called the South Café & Marketplace, opened.
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Guy V. Worley, CEO and president
Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Capitol South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp.

With more than 25 years of experience, Worley has led the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and Capitol South Community Urban Redevelopment Corp. since 2007.

Some of his city-changing projects include the renovation of the Lazarus Building, the redevelopment of the former City Center Mall site into Columbus Commons, the creation of the Scioto Mile riverfront park and the restoration of the Scioto River, and the creation of a new greenways along the downtown waterway corridor.

His current projects include:

  • Developing a new Veterans Memorial and Museum, where the CDDC is the project manager, which is slated to open the summer of 2018.
  • Creating a new 6.5-acre park and 600-space underground parking garage, west of COSI on the Scioto Peninsula, which is currently under construction.

In the future, the CDDC will lead the effort to redevelop a 21-acre piece of the Scioto Peninsula into a $500 million mixed-use site with apartments, retail, office space and hotel rooms.


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Smart Columbus

The City of Columbus “Smart Columbus” vision won the U.S. Department of Transportation $40 million Smart City Challenge in June 2016, after competing against 77 cities nationwide to implement a holistic vision for how technology can help all residents to move easily and to access opportunity.

Columbus was also awarded a $10 million grant from Paul G. Allen’s Vulcan Inc. to reduce greenhouse gas emissions through the decarbonization of the electric supply and transport sectors. Another $90 million was pledged from other public and private sector contributors.

While 2017 will be a big planning year, city officials do know which areas it will focus on.

First is integrated data exchange, a dynamic, cloud-based platform that integrates data from multiple sources, including planned smart city technologies, traditional transportation data and other community partners, such as food pantries and medical service providers. This will facilitate better decision-making and problem solving.

The Columbus connected transportation network will leverage the city’s high-speed fiber investment to connect people, vehicles, infrastructure and transportation providers. Projects include connected vehicles, smart streetlights with Wi-Fi and a transit-pedestrian collision avoidance system.

Finally, the Smart Columbus team has divided its projects into four districts to not only maximize the benefits, but also make what it learns adaptable to other cities. The districts are residential (with projects in Linden), commercial (Easton), downtown and logistics.

Smart Columbus also will begin work on decarbonization through grid modernization, electric vehicle adoption and installation of charging infrastructure.

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The Ohio State University

Amanda Hoffsis, president
Campus Partners

This past summer Campus Partners, under the direction of Hoffsis, announced its vision for the 15th Avenue and High Street area, a critical intersection between The Ohio State University and the University District. Key components include:

  • A new public space, University Square, at 15th and High on the east side of High Street.
  • A walkable, pedestrian-focused environment.
  • Mixed-use buildings with active ground floor uses.
  • A signature building anchoring the new University Square, with direct sightlines to The Oval and William Oxley Thompson Library.
  • A comprehensive parking strategy.
  • Improvements to the street network and infrastructure as well as streetscape enhancements.
  • A reimagined Pearl Alley serving as a retail corridor.

The improvements are designed to connect the new University Square, on the east side of High Street, with the west side Arts Plaza. Infrastructure work on the east side is expected to begin early this year.
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Urban Meyer, head football coach
The Ohio State University

Even with its devastating 31-0 blowout loss to Clemson and the departure of players like Curtis Samuel and Malik Hooker, expectations are already building for Meyer’s 2017 team.

This year’s team will have more experience, but with the Buckeyes’ offensive struggles, Meyer shook things up on his coaching staff.

Former Indiana coach Kevin Wilson became the new offensive coordinator, and Meyer hired Ryan Day as his quarterbacks coach. Day worked under Chip Kelly the past two seasons and will serve as offensive co-coordinator.

Northeast Ohio Media Group’s Doug Lesmerises says that Wilson should give the Buckeye a jolt with more up-tempo calls and downfield passing shots.

With a chance to retool the offense and a talented roster that expects to once again contend for the national title, Ohio State is already ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s Big Ten power rankings.

Meyer’s record is 61-6 through five years at Ohio State.
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Athletics construction projects

The Ohio State University Board of Trustees has authorized building construction and renovations for the:

  • Covelli Multi-Sport Arena/Jennings Family Wrestling Practice Facility — Built east of Fred Taylor Drive, the facility, projected to cost $49.7 million, will be combined with the Jennings Family Wrestling Practice Facility. It will seat approximately 3,700 and serve as home for the men’s and women’s varsity volleyball teams, the men’s and women’s fencing teams, gymnastics and men’s wrestling.
  • Schumaker Student-Athlete Development Center — The $43 million project will replace the Biggs Facility in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. The new facility will include a state-of-the-art athletic training center, weight training and cardio conditioning, athletic offices, and nutrition, dining and production kitchens.
  • Ohio Stadium upgrades — The $39 million makeover includes electrical upgrades, C-deck concrete coating and restoration, and the addition of loge seats. The multiple-phase, multiyear project should be finished in time for kickoff in 2020.
  • Schottenstein Center — North expansion and concourse renovation. Ohio State plans to use $31.5 million to expand the concourse and add more natural light, while also improving access to ticket offices and the team store. Construction should take a year and be finished in February 2018.

All athletics construction projects are self-funded.

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Mirror Lake District

A restoration of historic Mirror Lake and the surrounding district will continue this year, with a spring 2018 target for a grand re-opening.

The restoration returns Mirror Lake to a more natural and sustainable state, while emphasizing improved stormwater management, reducing chemical water treatments and increasing biodiversity.

The current plan was combined with long-planned and extensive renovations to buildings and locations in the district bordering Neil Avenue, including Baker Commons, Browning Amphitheater and Oxley and Pomerene Halls.

The restoration also supports the university’s interest in seeing the recent practice of a Mirror Lake jump ended.

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Mary Lynn Foster, CEO
American Red Cross, Ohio Buckeye Region

Foster, who formerly led the Children’s Hunger Alliance, took over as CEO of the Red Cross’ Ohio Buckeye Region on Dec. 29.

Foster possesses more than 25 years of management and leadership experience and will now lead the efforts of the American Red Cross for 45 counties across the state, an area which includes 4 million residents.

“I am beyond thrilled to accept a leadership role with such an impactful organization. The breadth and scope of the Red Cross is like none other. I can’t wait to continue working alongside the great staff and volunteers here who truly make a difference every single day,” Foster stated in an International Women’s Forum® press release. She is the IWF Ohio president.

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Frederic Bertley, Ph.D., president and CEO

It’s a pivotal time for the Columbus Center of Science and Industry, more commonly known as COSI. The top-rated science museum and research center welcomed Bertley as its new president and CEO effective Jan. 1. Last fall, the Columbus Downtown Development Corp. and COSI forged an unprecedented partnership with the American Museum of Natural History to establish two significant exhibition areas at COSI: the Dinosaur Gallery and the AMNH Exhibition Gallery.

The Dinosaur Gallery will include installations of AMNH’s renowned dinosaur exhibits, including interactive experiences and loaned specimens. The Exhibition Gallery will host premier rotating AMNH curated special exhibitions. The Dinosaur Gallery is expected to debut in November, with the first featured special exhibition to open in February 2018.

COSI and the CDDC also are working together to develop a 6.5-acre park with an underground parking garage that will provide COSI with greenspace for guests, starting in 2018. The garage will open later this year.

Prior to joining COSI, Bertley was senior vice president for science and education with the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia. While there, he focused on improving the quality of science education, increasing science literacy for families and the non-scientist adult population, and engaging diverse communities in science, technology, engineering and math.

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Derek Grosso, president, CEO and founder
Columbus Young Professionals Club

After more than 11 years, the Columbus Young Professionals Club is expanding.

The CYP Club is a networking group, social club, volunteer network and athletics coordinator all in one. With more than 21,000 registered members, it is the largest young professional membership organization in the U.S.

In October, the CYP Club launched Music City Young Professionals in Nashville, Tennessee. It already has more than 250 registered members. Grosso says CYP Club plans to take its organizational model, leadership structure and brand of engaging events for young professionals into new cities.

The CYP Club also will be expanding its Ohio Young Leaders Summit into a full week of activities and promotions.

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Patrick Losinski, CEO
Columbus Metropolitan Library

The Columbus Metropolitan Library is in the midst of rebuilding 10 of its locations under the direction of Losinski. The CML hopes to have all 10 projects completed by 2020.

So far, the branches of Driving Park, Whitehall, Parsons, Northern Lights and Shepard, and the main library have been rebuilt or transformed. Construction or planning is under way on the branches of Northside, Martin Luther King and Hilliard. In January, the CML unveiled its design concept for a new Dublin Branch.

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