MORPC State of the Region Event Honors Community Leaders

    April 19, 2018

    Community leaders who made extraordinary efforts in contributing to the welfare of Central Ohioans were honored by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) at the State of the Region Luncheon held today at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

    The city of Delaware, Delaware Community Center YMCA, and the National Guard Readiness Center were the recipient of the William C. Habig Collaborative Achievement award.  The William C. Habig Collaborative Achievement award is annually presented to an individual or individuals who have achieved an effective effort or innovative collaborative in Central Ohio.

    Delaware leaders understood the vital role a center could play in their community. They took up the challenge through a unique partnership with the Ohio Army National Guard, the YMCA of Central Ohio and a local citizens group to develop a state-of-the-art facility at a reduced cost. The Ohio Army National Guard’s 1913 facility no longer met 21st century readiness requirements. Delaware began working more closely with the Guard on timelines and learning more about the joint-use concept.  At the same time, aware of the YMCA’s continued interest in expanding into the Delaware market, city leaders renewed relationships with the YMCA. The collaboration resulted in the 76,000 square-foot Delaware Community Center YMCA which opened in 2011 and the 65,000 square-foot Ohio Army National Guard Training center in 2013 connected by a common hallway.

    Franklin County Economic Development and Planning Director James Schimmer was recognized with the William H. Anderson Excellence in Public Service Award.  The William H. Anderson Award recognizes a current or past board member who exemplifies outstanding leadership, a vision for the community and the region, and commitment to MORPC. William H. Anderson, a longtime MORPC board member, was the epitome of a civic volunteer who is remembered for his zeal with which he championed MORPC’s mission and goals.

    Schimmer has been an outstanding leader for several organizations that benefit the region including the Mid-Ohio Economic Development Exchange (MODE). He was part of the original group of leaders that recognized the importance of organizing MODE so the region’s assets and opportunities could be more widely marketed. He has served in all levels of leadership and lends his support staff to ensure the group remains strong.  Schimmer has served on numerous committees that cover regional areas including most recently serving as Vice Chair and now Chair of the Sustainability Advisory Committee (SAC) at MORPC. Through his leadership, the SAC secured commitments from 31 communities to actions and processes that lead to sustainable communities via the Sustainable2050 initiative.  He has served on the Franklin County Retail Summit which expanded into a two-day model program that draw participants from around the globe. He serves on the innovative program planning for the annual ED411 event that showcases public and private efforts to foster economic success in the region.

    Former Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA) President and CEO Curtis Stitt was the recipient of the Regional Leadership Award which recognizes individuals in the region who make extraordinary efforts to ensure the future viability of the region’s communities. The Regional Leadership Award is derived from MORPC’s continuing dedication to addressing issues that transcend community boundaries and to stimulating visionary thinking.

    After serving 18 years at COTA, including the past five as President/CEO, Stitt oversaw the transformation of public transit in Central Ohio.  He led COTA’s partnerships with New Albany, Groveport and Obetz in the Rickenbacker area to create new transportation service to jobs in these communities.  He also led the efforts to reinstitute the downtown circulator service and an airport shuttle.  One of COTA’s major accomplishments, under Stitt’s leadership, was the comprehensive redesign of the entire bus network which has laid the foundation for the future of public transit with the NextGen vision. Under his strong leadership and strategic collaborations, public transit is relevant and top of mind…changing mindsets of key influencers and the community at large.

    The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission’s State of the Region is an annual one-day event which brings together over 800 key political, business and civic leaders to celebrate our region’s accomplishments and address future challenges and opportunities.  This year’s keynote, Jennifer Keesmaat, former chief planner for the city of Toronto, addressed a collaborative approach to city-building and growth.  The 2018 State of the Region can be viewed in its entirety on GTC-TV 3.

    Videos highlighting the award recipients can be viewed here.

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