1. Les Wexner Chairman and CEO, Limited Brands (1)
Wexner is the undisputed heavyweight of Columbus. Think Ali in his prime. At age 70, Wexner remains a force as head of Limited Brands, the company he founded in 1963 and which today boasts sales of $11 billion and more than 100,000 employees nationwide. Wexner’s name and influence are felt throughout the region and include the Wexner Center for the Arts, Wexner Heritage Village, The Wexner Foundation and the Wexner Institute for Pediatric Research at Children’s Hospital.
2. John Wolfe Chairman, publisher and CEO, The Dispatch Printing Co. (2)
Wolfe’s company is synonymous with Ohio media. He owns The Columbus Dispatch, several magazines, community newspapers, and radio and television stations. Beyond that, Wolfe is one of the largest contributors to local community programs, including a 2007 gift of $1 million to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. He is also part owner of the NHL’s Columbus Blue Jackets and has a collection named for him at Franklin Park Conservatory.
3. Jerry Jurgensen CEO, Nationwide (4)
A key power player, Jurgensen’s influence permeates downtown development and elsewhere across the community. He sits on the boards of the Columbus Chamber, the Columbus Partnership and Downtown Development Corp. Nationwide’s recent $50 million gift to the children’s hospital reinforced Jurgensen’s regional commitment and earned him a one-spot bump up the list.
4. Thomas Hoaglin President and CEO, Huntington Bancshares Inc. (3)
Hoaglin is past chairman of the chamber and Downtown Development Corp. as well as head of the largest locally owned bank. Huntington took a multi-million charge against earnings last year due to the subprime loan mess, which, combined with Jurgensen’s corporate gift, caused Hoaglin’s flip-flop with Jurgensen.
5. Michael Coleman Mayor, city of Columbus (5)
The powerful, popular mayor continues to be a force. He’s a big proponent of public-private partnerships and a balanced budget, and he has become a major catalyst in downtown development. He hammered his Republican opponent in November to win a third term. Columbus’ fortunes just keep improving with him at the helm.
6. Ron Pizzuti Chairman and CEO, The Pizzuti Cos. (6)
Real estate is a tough business these days but Pizzuti and his company seem to have weathered the storm. He is a trustee of the Wexner Center Foundation, past chair of the Columbus Museum of Art and the Columbus Symphony Orchestra and played an active role in bringing professional sports to Columbus with the Columbus Crew, a Major League Soccer team, and as a minority owner of the Blue Jackets.
7. Jay Schottenstein President, Schottenstein Management Co., chairman, American Eagle Outfitters; chairman, Retail Ventures Inc.; chairman and CEO, DSW (7)
Schottenstein’s name just keeps popping up in association with successful business ventures. His numerous companies’ sales and profits continue to increase and his real estate holdings are stable in a challenging market. Schottenstein serves on a variety of boards and is a member of the powerful Downtown Development Corp.
8. Alex Shumate Managing partner, Columbus, Squire, Sanders & Dempsey (8)
Whom do you turn to when you need the legal eagle in Columbus to make things happen? No disrespect to the others on this list, but Shumate’s name tops the list of answers to that question. A former chamber chairman, he leads Squire Sanders’ Business Regulatory Practice and advises many large companies on their legal matters.
9. Tanny Crane President and CEO, Crane Group (9)
Last year, Crane announced an aggressive strategy to double her family company’s revenue to $1 billion by 2010. While overseeing that process, she remains an active player as chairman of the board of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, a director at Wendy’s International Inc. and a member of the Columbus Partnership.
10. Carl Kohrt President and CEO, Battelle (20)
Under Kohrt, Battelle is helping lead the charge in transforming downtown development and sparking economic revitalization. He serves on the chamber board and is a critical partner with OSU on research and technology commercialization. His stock continues to rise.
11. Larry James Partner, Crabbe Brown & James (13)
If Shumate isn’t your man, it’s probably because James is. A heavy-hitting attorney who has represented Wolfe as well as numerous governmental entities, James is a man in heavy demand. He is active in the region’s cultural organizations and, with his wife, Donna (No. 14), he represents half of the region’s top power couple.
12. John Beavers Counsel for Boards and Executives Group, Bricker & Eckler LLP (15)
As head of the firm’s Counsel for Boards and Executives Group, Beavers is the region’s expert on entrepreneurship. His advice and insight help foster Columbus area business growth. In addition, Beavers is a member of OSU’s powerful Alumni Advisory Council.
13. Don M. Casto III Partner, Don M. Casto Organization (16)
Casto’s firm manages about 85 shopping centers and 25 apartment communities, with much of its holdings located in the Central Ohio region. He is a member of chamber and Columbus Regional Airport Authority boards, a director of Huntington Bancshares and deeply involved with downtown development.
14. Donna James Managing director, Lardon & Associates (14)
As former head of Nationwide’s diversified financial services arm and a director of Coca-Cola Enterprises and Limited Brands, James is an extremely well-connected woman. Her executive advisory firm provides services to a bevy of powerful clients. Last year, she was elected to the boards of The Health Policy Institute of Ohio and Conseco Inc.
15. Curt Loveland Partner Porter, Wright, Morris & Arthur LLP (18)
Loveland is the go-to guy in Columbus for emerging and established companies and investors with regard to financial matters, such as raising capital, mergers and acquisitions, and public offerings. He serves on the boards of Max & Erma’s Restaurants, Rocky Brands Inc. and the Association for Corporate Growth. He is also corporate secretary of CheckFree Corp.
16. Ty Marsh President and CEO, Greater Columbus Chamber of Commerce (24)
Marsh’s commitment to attracting and retaining businesses, talent and promoting the region keeps paying dividends. Expansion Management last year named Columbus a Top 50 city for expansion opportunities.
17. Bob Milbourne CEO, The Columbus Partnership (25)
When you have the attention and backing of 29 powerful CEOs and their respective organizations, it’s hard to argue with your influence. Milbourne serves on the chamber board and continues to have an increasingly persuasive voice in the community.
18. David Blom President and CEO, OhioHealth (43)
Blom’s jump can be attributed to his position as chairman of the chamber, a position full of influence in the city. On top of that, OhioHealth has continued to do well under his leadership as it was named to Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work list.
19. E. Gordon Gee President The Ohio State University (new)
Gee returned to OSU in October 2007 for a second go-around after stints at Vanderbilt and Brown universities. With his previous ties to Columbus, Gee steps into a familiar situation and should fit in to the community as though he never left. He has held more university presidencies than any other American.
20. George Jenkins Of counsel, Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP (19)
Jenkins may no longer be an active player in all aspects of legal work at Vorys, but the former Ohio assistant attorney general combines his powerful past political connections with private investment savvy to be an expert on mergers and acquisitions as well as corporate financing. His talents and unique expertise remain in demand.
21. Matt Kallner Attorney, Law Offices of Matthew G. Kallner (21)
Kallner remains a force in the legal community primarily due to his impressive client roster, which includes such luminaries as Limited Brands, New Albany Co., M/I Homes, Worthington Industries, Goodyear Tire & Rubber and Huntington Bancshares. He is also a close ally of Mayor Coleman.
22. Bea Wolper Partner Chester, Willcox & Saxbe LLP (22)
Wolper is co-founder of the Family Business Center of Central Ohio, a member of Wexner Director’s Circle Council and The Capital Club as well as founder and president of the Women’s Business Board. A family business expert, she literally co-wrote the book on it and is a member of her firm’s management committee and co-chair of the business area.
23. Michael Fiorile President and chief operating officer, The Dispatch Printing Co. (23)
Fiorile runs daily operations for the media giant, which includes print, radio and television properties. He wields considerable industry influence through positions on the boards of the Television Operators Caucus, NBC Affiliates, Television Bureau of Advertising and Association of Maximum Service Television. Fiorile also serves on the board of the Columbus College of Art and Design and is a director of State Auto.
24. Friedl Bohm Chairman, NBBJ (29)
Bohm climbs our list due to the increase in NBBJ’s international business, two-thirds of which is coordinated out of the firm’s Columbus headquarters. NBBJ also handled the Jennings Hall renovation at OSU and Grange Mutual Casualty Insurance Co.’s headquarters expansion, currently underway in Columbus’ Brewing district. Bohm is presently working with developer Patrick Grabill on a proposed condo project in the city’s Victorian Village.
25. Neil Clark CEO, State Street Consultants (27)
Clark’s co-founder, Paul Tipps, is retired, but that hasn’t stopped Clark and his lobbying firm from representing a who’s who of Ohio businesses, local governments and not-for-profit organizations. In addition to his role as CEO, Clark continues to direct election campaigns and statewide ballot initiatives.