The Next Decade of Columbus Innovation Economy Growth

Columbus is leading the Midwest in the density of high-growth firms and has big ambitions to move things forward. The upcoming decade will hold innovations for firms of all types, including life science and software.

At our recent Founder’s Story, Rev1 Ventures CEO Tom Walker and One Columbus CEO, Kenny McDonald, discuss the innovation economy strategy for Central Ohio.

Watch the video for more reasons why entrepreneurs and investors are choosing Columbus as the place to start and invest in rapid growth businesses.


“Our economy works by constantly diversifying with new employers and talent.”

“Rev1 Ventures, corporate partners, research institutions, and One Columbus, all work together on a very integrated model. Everything is aspirational. We have made a lot of progress in the last ten years, and the best days of Columbus are ahead.”

“This region has enormous assets—our location, OSU, the corporations that are headquartered here, the research institutions, the authenticity of the city, and its people.”

About Kenny McDonald

Kenny has served as president and chief economic officer of One Columbus, formerly Columbus 2020, since the organization’s inception in 2010. He has helped lead the execution of the One Columbus Regional Growth Strategy and development of the Columbus Region’s competitiveness agenda, and he has also built local and national partnerships that have accelerated the area’s development.

Kenny has over 20 years of regional economic development and management consulting experience focused on helping companies develop and execute their location strategies and helping communities achieve their goals.

McDonald serves as the chair of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC), and is committed to developing the profession to meet the changing needs of business and government. He also serves on numerous local boards of directors and is a frequent speaker on the subject of regional economic competitiveness.

About Tom Walker

Tom has been helping entrepreneurs build great companies for most of his career. He’s formed multiple venture capital funds, founded angel groups, and is an active angel investor. As the CEO of Rev1 Ventures, Tom has built an experienced team that has invested in more than 100 startups and added more than $100MM in capital to the Columbus, Ohio region in under five years. This growth has helped Columbus to be named one of the fastest-growing startup cities in the U.S. according to the Kauffman Foundation and Rev1 named the Most Active VC in the Great Lakes region, according to Pitchbook.

Before forming Rev1, Tom spent much of his career focused on innovation, startups and early stage capital – first from the corporate sector within Battelle – and then regionally, building innovation and startup support systems in Oklahoma, Ohio and advising several regions of the United States and the United Kingdom.

He feels strongly that in order to fuel startups, you must connect the assets in your own back yard. This includes corporations, service providers, academic and research institutions, and public sector entities. He’s the author of The Entrepreneur’s Path: A Handbook for High-Growth Companies.