Surprised? Paul Astleford, president of the Greater Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau (GCCVB), says you shouldn't be.
"I think people that visit the city see more of it than the residents," says Astleford. "As a destination product, we are actually quite rich."
Visitors spend more money shopping than on any other activity. And Astleford says the availability of many well-known stores is one of Columbus' greatest strengths.
He also cites COSI and the city's cultural attractions as reasons companies and organizations are visiting.
"In addition to one of the greatest science museums -- COSI -- we also have a zoo that has received national acclaim, theatres such as The Palace and the Ohio Theatre and the Columbus Symphony," he says.
Columbus is considered a second-tier city, which means it doesn't usually compete on a national level, but Astleford says thanks to great restaurants and sports teams, it's getting noticed by more potential visitors.
"We compete pretty well," he says. "We beat out St. Louis for the Frozen Four hockey tournaments. Amateur athletics is one of our strengths."
Columbus draws mostly regional conventions and trade shows, and it would take additional full-service hotel rooms to bring in national crowds. But with the support of Mayor Michael Coleman and other community leaders, Columbus may soon have what it takes to open itself to new markets.
"I think everyone in the community is in favor of spreading our marketing arms," Astleford says. "We are doing some consensus building on what it takes to compete on a national level. Adding some vitality and energy to the downtown, making Columbus attractive to visitors, is part of Mayor Coleman's plan. And it makes the city a place where people want to live."
While Astleford doesn't predict Columbus will move into the tier one category, he does anticipate a change.
"I think we will create a new tier that is yet to be defined," he says. "That is our goal as a community -- to create connectivity so that no matter where you go in the city, you'll have a unique experience." How to reach: Greater Columbus Convention and Visitors Bureau, (614) 221-6623 or www.columbuscvb.org
"The No. 1 mistake companies make is awarding their business to the lowest bidder," says Dan Brunell, COO of Acloche, a staffing solutions company. "There may be big differences in what you get for your money. The best price does not always mean you'll get the best talent."
Brunell says some companies make the mistake of paying temporary employees far less than their full-time counterparts.
"The primary advantage to using temporary staffing isn't the pay," says Brunell. "What saves the company money is the elimination of the recruiting and screening process and the insurance and benefits due full-time workers."
According to Brunell, when a company pays temporary staff a lower wage, it results in less qualified personnel on the job.
"Then the manager is scratching his or her head and wondering why it didn't work out," says Brunell.
The biggest benefit of hiring out a company's entire HR function is gaining the expertise of the hired company.
"There is so much to hiring employees that it is more efficiently handled by a company that performs only that function," says Brunell.
Seek a company that has the same business philosophies and values as yours.
"Look for a company that has an effective recruitment mechanism built in and that has the appropriate levels of insurance to protect them," says Brunell.
He cautions employers to check out a firm's understanding of hiring procedures.
"HIPAA legislation is changing the way we employ people," Brunell says. "The way it is handled could lead to a lawsuit if privacy issues are not followed. It could be a big disaster if you don't select an appropriate company." How to reach: Acloche, (614) 416-5600 or www.acloche.com
Identifying the right IT consulting firm starts with knowing your company's needs.
"Is the company looking for extra project help or someone to upgrade the computer system?" says Carolyn Wright, owner of C.J. Wright Co. and a member of the Independent Computer Consultants Association. "The company needs to determine what its needs are."
The next step is to come up with a preliminary list of firms for consideration.
"It's very common to ask people at other companies in the same industry what IT consultants they use," says Wright. "That way they are already familiar with the industry."
Also check with your software vendors. Unless the software company also offers consulting, vendors can usually recommend reputable consultants.
After you've made a list, ask for a past-client listing from each company and check references.
"The critical question to ask is, 'Would the company hire the firm again?'" Wright says. "If the answer is no, that's not a good sign."
When meeting with potential contractors, make sure they're listening to your needs. John Kratz, president of Columbus-based Information Control Corp., says many IT consultants are more interested in applying the latest software than in solving customer needs.
"Make sure the company is really assessing your business needs," says Kratz, "instead of offering the latest technical solution. The business's needs should drive the technology and not the other way around."
Kratz also says it's important to check references thoroughly.
"A lot of firms are all smoke and mirrors," he says. "You want to make sure the company has a successful track record, and the best way to see that is with an inventory of satisfied customers." How to reach: C.J. Wright Co., (937) 885-1175; Information Control Corp., (614) 523-3070 or www.icc-net.com
Since arriving last fall, Kohrt's been working on ways to increase revenue at the billion-dollar R&D enterprise. One major area of focus: biotechnology.
"It's our sweet spot," he says.
His timing couldn't be better. With nearly half a million jobs and more than $22 billion in revenue, the life sciences industry is drawing considerable interest from state governors and many cities across the nation. Following the examples of states like North Carolina (home of the famed Research Triangle Park), Ohio officials are scrambling to jump on the biotech bandwagon and claim their own piece of the pie.
And if Battelle's own tradition of innovation isn't enough -- among the products it can stake a claim to bringing to market are the copy machine and the compact disc -- it recently forged a strategic research alliance with The Ohio State University Medical Center, which has been busy doing its own biomedical research and making a name for itself in the fields of cardiology and cancer research.
The two research giants have collaborated on specific projects over the years, but no major effort has ever been made to develop a formal agreement to work together on a broad range of projects. Kohrt turned to OSU President Brit Kirwan to get the ball rolling.
"We saw an opportunity to build on our strengths and have the two institutions work together," Kohrt says.
OSU brings a practicing medical facility to the partnership; Battelle brings years of R&D experience and, perhaps more important, a track record of turning research into commercial products. That brings money as well as acclaim.
The concept quickly gathered support in both organizations, Kohrt says.
"If an important initiative depends on one or two people, it isn't very strong. But the value was seen here throughout the organization, and that will carry it through," he says.
Once Kohrt and Kirwan agreed it was in both institutions' best interests to work together, they each pulled in key people to flesh out the arrangement: Dr. Fred Sanfilippo, OSU medical researcher, and Rich Rosen, Battelle's senior vice president and general manager of its health care products sector.
Forging a partnership
The partnership got researchers' buy-in because they felt the two organizations could make a bigger impact together than alone, says Battelle's Rosen.
"We all felt a larger impact could be made if we proactively search for major areas for collaboration. And that is a process of discovery," he says.
The two organizations are still working to uncover each other's mutual strengths.
"The more we learn about each other, we discover areas where we can leverage our shared strengths," he says.
OSU -- as well as the community at large -- stands to gain real benefits from the joint venture, OSU's Sanfilippo contends.
"We'll gain from Battelle's technology transfer expertise in transitioning intellectual property. And in addition to the knowledge gained, commercialization of the discoveries can translate into the creation of high-tech jobs," he says.
The partnership will continue as long as both organizations reap the benefits, says Sanfilippo.
"There is no end point to this arrangement," he says. "We both hope to grow and see the mutual benefit of doing so."
At the same time, both organizations are keeping their options open.
"This partnership is unique, but we are developing partnerships with other organizations," says Sanfilippo.
Finding the killer product
Still in its early stages, the relationship between the two entities is taking shape, as key employees of the partners meet to define areas of collaboration.
"Our signature areas of collaboration will become defined over time," Sanfilippo says.
Battelle's Rosen, who is involved in commercializing products that come out of the R&D process, is less coy.
"Ultimately, we want to target issues of major impact," he says. "It's very possible we'll be looking at cardiovascular disease and cancer."
The powerful combination of Battelle's research facilities and OSU's practicing medical center and applied research may well lead to a new flow of ideas and products.
"Our signature areas will be those where we can make an impact nationally or internationally, where we couldn't have made an impact alone," Rosen says. "Our mutual focus is narrow but deep."
And the hope on both sides of the partnership is that the discoveries it produces will spark the start-up of new companies and jobs in the area.
"We'd like to be the fuel for start-up businesses," says Rosen, "or bring other, larger companies to the table."
Adds Sanfilippo: "We are not purposefully looking at bringing other companies in (to this partnership), but if we see others add value, we may want them to be involved."
A biotech capital?
While bringing together the two organizations is an exciting prospect, is it enough to draw interest from established and budding companies in the industry?
"Columbus is a rich arena for starting companies, and not just in the life sciences," Kohrt contends. "And Columbus is still a good place to live. We offer an educated work force and a large university population."
The role of the life sciences industry in the state is definitely building, says John Lewis, regional director of the Edison BioTechnology Center's Columbus office. "We're seeing a great deal of growth in Ohio and a great deal of interest. It's very exciting."
With offices in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Athens, the EBTC has been encouraging the development of biotech companies in the state since its inception. According to EBTC officials, there are more than 350 companies in Ohio involved in the biomedical industry, with annual revenue of more than $10 billion and 14,000 employees.
But Kohrt warns the biotech industry should not become Ohio's only drawing card.
"It would be very dangerous and unfortunate to focus solely on this industry when developing the state's businesses," he says. "Life sciences is one growth area -- but we are just adding another car to the train." How to reach: Battelle, (614) 424-6424 or www.battelle.org; OSU Medical Center, (614) 293-8000 or www.osumedcenter.edu
Carl F. Kohrt
Carl Kohrt is no stranger to leading a large research effort. At Eastman Kodak, he worked his way up the ranks from research scientist to chief technology officer to assistant chief operating officer before retiring in July 2000.
While at Kodak his accomplishments included:
* Discovering or commercializing entirely new color imaging systems
* Revamping the intellectual property process to help Kodak become a leader in patents among Fortune 500 companies
* Transforming R&D from a functional organization into one aligned with specific market-oriented portfolios and the entry into digital and networked businesses
* Developing the Corporate Diversity Council to provide strategies and policies for increasing the representation of diverse constituencies to all regions and to all levels within the corporation.
Kohrt's academic background includes a bachelor of science degree in chemistry from Furman University, a doctorate in physical chemistry from the University of Chicago and a master's in management science from the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
A key trait that appealed to Battelle's board in hiring Kohrt was his varied background at Kodak, according to Chairman John B. McCoy.
"Carl Kohrt is an outstanding choice to lead Battelle into the future," McCoy said at the time of Kohrt's hiring. "He has a great blend of science and technology, business, R&D management, and commercialization skills. In addition, he has vast experience across commercial and government markets and a strong track record of bringing breakthrough products and solutions to the marketplace."
As CEO, Kohrt oversees a complex organization with activities in three major revenue sources: contract research, co-managing government science labs and applying scientific research to develop products.
"My job is to oversee our three business components and ensure that they all grow, interact with each other, and that we draw from our strengths," he says.
"I have a lot of drive and passion toward the goals I set," says Sanda.
He took over the customer relationship management (CRM) software company in 1995, growing it from two employees to 34, with revenue up nearly 500 percent under his leadership. His accomplishments earned him the SBA's 2002 Small Business Person of the Year award.
Sanda says the company's growth and success have not come easily.
"When I acquired the company, it was a challenge," he says. "My first customer call was not a pleasant experience -- the customer was not happy."
However, Sanda met the challenge and turned that customer around.
"The company turned into a loyal customer, but I had to make things right for them," he says.
It's that passion for the customer that gives Astute Solutions its competitive edge.
"We have a very strong passion for taking care of the customer," he says. "We listen, respond and do everything we can to make the customer succeed."
He advises new business owners to expect the unexpected.
"People tend to put together a business plan and think that everything will go as planned," says Sanda. "And it never does."
Always have a contingency plan, and be creative in generating revenue, he says. He also cautions entrepreneurs to listen to the customer and focus on action.
"Sometimes companies start believing their own marketing material instead of listening to the customer," he says. "And it's easy to overanalyze. It's more important to execute, not just plan."
Unaware he was even nominated for the SBA award, Sanda is excited about receiving it and credits his staff.
"I really think it's the team that makes the company a success," he says. "This award is a tribute to the company." How to reach: Astute Solutions, (614) 508-6100.
"In general, we live in a very educated climate -- people do their own research," says Dr. Mrunal Shah, assistant program director of Riverside Methodist Hospital's family practice residency program. But despite this knowledge, says Shah, patients -- especially older patients -- are often afraid of offending their doctors by asking for a second opinion.
"There used to be a stereotype that doctors got angry when a patient asked for a second opinion," says Shah.
Shah says any time patients have concerns or reservations about a physician's choice of treatment, they should consider a second opinion, "especially when we're talking major surgery or diagnosis plan."
Since patients are usually under the care of a specialist at the time of diagnosis, Shah advises them to contact their primary care physician to obtain the name of another specialist for a second opinion. If the opinions vary, that may mean there is no right or wrong answer when it comes to treatment.
"If the second opinion is very different from the first, it becomes a case of informed consent," says Shah. "In that case, it may come down to what the patient prefers to do."
The primary care physician can obtain medical records from each specialist and facilitate the decision-making process by going over both recommendations and counseling the patient on the best option.
How to reach: Riverside Methodist Hospital (614) 566-5000.
Allen Reis, managing partner of Weltman, Weinberg and Reis Co. LPA, says executives and managers may be neglecting debt collection.
"You assume the customer will fulfill his or her obligations," says Reis.
But that's not always the case. Reis says three mistakes can cost companies money: not knowing who the customer is, failing to recognize the commercial customer and failing to obtain collateral.
"Some businesses fail to determine whether they are dealing with an individual or corporate entity," Reis says. "Or they fail to obtain collateral for the obligation."
Asking the customer for a deposit or for partial or full payment up front are a few ways of obtaining collateral.
Reis says companies may not be as aggressive and persistent in obtaining past due funds as they should be.
"A company is well within its legal rights to pursue debt collection," says Reis. "But often, companies aren't persistent enough in contacting the customer or hiring a professional to force payment or legal action."
Reis advises companies to know what rights they have to pursue past due accounts and to make every effort within the law to collect funds owed.
"Make sure all accounts are addressed, and be consistent," he says. "And be cognizant of the customer's situation. That doesn't mean be overly sympathetic, but being aware of the situation can help prevent your company from experiencing a more disastrous loss like the customer's bankruptcy."
Consider hiring an in-house collections professional for controlling receivables management, Reis says, since often current personnel have neither the time or the training to do the job.
"A staff collector could easily pay for him or herself if effective in reducing outstanding debt," Reis says. "And that means more bottom line profit for the company." How to reach: Weltman, Weinberg and Reis, (614) 228-7272 or www.weltman.com
E-business is booming. U.S. Department of Commerce statistics show that e-commerce sales in the fourth quarter of 2001 increased by 13 percent over the same period in 2000.
However, privacy and security concerns are also increasing, according to a Harris poll. There are a number of concerns that fall under the security umbrella, says Jeff Schmidt, founder and chief technical officer of Columbus-based Secure Interiors.
"There are a huge set of security considerations along with a different set of solutions for each," says Schmidt.
The primary concerns are confidentiality, the integrity of transactions and system availability. Firewalls, intrusion detection software and ongoing system monitoring and management are all options for handling these issues, butt they can be expensive, says Schmidt.
"Confidentiality can be handled with encryption programs, firewalls can make sure a bad guy can't break in, but system availability issues can require ongoing monitoring," he says. "Most companies don't have the expertise or budget to do all of this. Company resources these days are already stretched pretty thin."
Outsourcing is an attractive option, especially for round-the-clock monitoring.
"There are software packages that will alert employees when the system goes down or has an issue, but that still means the employee has to go in and address the problem," says Schmidt.
One way to get the most for your security dollar is to work with a computer security consulting firm that can offer services tailored to your business's needs. Contracting with a consultant that offers monitoring and issue management can be less expensive than employing highly trained personnel to monitor your system 24 hours a day. And the consulting company has the resources to be on guard for the latest viruses, preventing them from spreading and damaging important files.
"There is no magic bullet when it comes to security," says Schmidt. "But any company conducting e-business needs to make sure these issues are addressed." How to reach: Secure Interiors, 876-9630, www.secureinteriors.com
Downsizing, layoffs and budget cuts are all byproducts of economic recession. So are stress and a rise in executive-level burnout, says Joan Simon, Ph.D., and a clinical psychologist at Columbus-based Matrix Integrated Psychological Services.
"I do a lot of one-on-one work with top managers and executives," says Simon. "And the cause of executive burnout usually lies more in the organization's environment than the individual."
Common causes are work overload, a feeling of lack of control and/or insufficient reward, and a breakdown of workplace relationships, Simon says.
Recognizing the early signs of burnout and addressing it before it begins affecting your work or business is important. Symptoms start with an erosion of commitment to the job and develop into increased anger and anxiety, then depression.
"That's when the person comes in (for counseling)," says Simon.
Prevention techniques start with the development of clear proposals for changes in the workplace.
"We do a Quality of Worklife Process," says Simon. "And it is a process. We work with the individual, work groups and management teams."
Simon says larger issues are harder to handle, but just addressing them can help. The Quality of Worklife Process is a survey given to management teams that allows executives to develop conclusions or proposals and put all the issues on the table.
"We can't solve everything, but it helps to restore or establish trust," says Simon.
If burnout has already occurred, it can be dealt with the same way, through a process of developing changes.
"If we can't do the process with the company, then we work with individuals," says Simon. "We work with executives and managers to help them gain a better understanding of their behavior, as well as others'. It's about getting that personal power back." How to reach: Matrix Integrated Psychological Services, (614) 475-9500 or www.employee-assistance.com
If your company hasn't looked into more effective ways to handle its cash, now is the time as new programs offer paperless systems and faster posting of cash receivables.
One such program is Bank One's payroll card.
"Payroll cards are an option that mid-market companies are just starting to consider," says Jean Hilliard, senior vice president and regional sales manager of Bank One's Treasury Management. "It is best suited for companies that already have multiple output systems."
Payroll cards are a substitute for checks or direct deposit and are helpful for employees without bank accounts. The cards are used like a debit card, and the amount available on them is updated each pay period.
Hilliard says government agencies, colleges, employment firms and trucking companies find payroll cards most beneficial.
"Any company that has employees that travel or not at centralized locations would find them helpful," says Hilliard. "A trucker on the road can have access to his or her pay the instant the card is updated, wherever he or she is."
Another cash management tool is Fifth Third's Wholesale Lockbox Imaging program, which is becoming a standard service for its lockbox customers, says Beth Nicholson, Fifth Third's lockbox product manager.
Lockbox deposits and the correspondence that comes with them are imaged and available the same day.
"By 1 p.m., they can see their deposits and can make investment decisions, move money between accounts if needed and post receivables," says Nicholson.
The images are available online and are also sent to the company on CDs, eliminating the storage of multiple boxes of paper.
"Our customers are finding that by reducing the paperwork, the program costs no more than their previous lockbox system and in some cases it is even less," Nicholson says. How to reach: Bank One Treasury Management, 248-5947, Fifth Third Treasury Management, 341-2553