MORPC’S Annual State of the Region “Connecting Communities: Building the Future of Housing and Transportation”

Event featured keynote Majora Carter, celebrated community leaders, highlighted collaborative projects across the region and revealed preliminary findings of the Leaders Listen Survey Series

Nearly 1,000 top elected officials, business, and civic leaders from across Central Ohio, one of the fastest growing regions in the country, joined the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) today for the 2024 State of the Region. This annual event celebrated the region’s shared accomplishments and showcased strategies for planning for the future.

This year’s theme, Connecting Communities: Building the Future of Housing and Transportation, envisioned a holistic transformation of Central Ohio’s communities to meet the needs of residents today and tomorrow. This included providing diverse choices in housing and transportation, unique for each community from urban neighborhoods to burgeoning hometowns.

“As a growing center of innovation, education, and industry, Central Ohio attracts and grows businesses and captivates residents and visitors. It’s how we became one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions. Connecting communities means investments and policies big enough to help every corner of our quickly growing region. We can build on our strengths and stay true to our character. We can set the stage for some truly transformational projects.”

MORPC welcomed keynote speaker Majora Carter, real estate developer, urban revitalization strategy consultant, MacArthur Fellow and Peabody Award winning broadcaster. In a day which highlighted growth in Central Ohio, Carter’s remarks echoed MORPC’s work toward fostering a sense of “connectedness” in the region.

"Nobody should have to move out of their neighborhood to live in a better one. I believe that talent retention, the same tool used to grow successful companies, can be used to build great neighborhoods for the people born and raised in them. If we use the tools of capitalism that we have, but in a much more restorative way, we show people that they can stay in the community they were born and raised.”

Following the keynote, a panel of state, regional, and local leaders shared insights on fostering a holistic transformation of housing and transportation. Panelists included Director Jack Marchbanks, Ohio Department of Transportation; Council President Shannon Hardin, City of Columbus; Deputy Chief Executive Officer and recently announced president and CEO Monica Tellez-Fowler, COTA (assuming role on May 6); and CEO Luke Messinger, RAPID5.

Additionally, MORPC unveiled the preliminary results of the Leaders Listen Survey Series, developed in partnership with The Columbus Dispatch and Measurement Resources Company, to obtain residents’ opinions on experiences and services in the region. The Leaders Listen Series is a set of short surveys produced by MORPC that periodically invites residents within the Central Ohio region to share their input. The most current survey topic in the series is housing. Feedback was obtained from more than 1,500 residents across 151 zip codes within the 15-county region.

Highlights from the preliminary findings included the following:

  • Survey responses illuminate the difficulties residents encounter to secure housing that meets their needs and stays within their budgetary constraints. Shockingly, less than four out of 10 individuals – 38 percent – say that they can find suitable housing options in Central Ohio that they can afford.
  • The survey data exposes the harsh realities faced by many residents. More than 55 percent of respondents admitted to making sacrifices or missing payments on essential items to afford their rent or mortgage.
  • When asked about LinkUS, just under half of Central Ohio residents indicated that they believe LinkUS will be moderately to extremely helpful to them personally; however, as survey respondents considered how helpful the plan for expanded transit and connectivity would be for others they know or Central Ohioans generally, many more expect it will be quite helpful.

Three Central Ohio leaders were recognized with special honors as MORPC bestowed the William H. Anderson Excellence in Public Service Award to Village of Ashville Administrator Franklin Christman; the Regional Leadership Award to President and CEO Lark Mallory, Affordable Housing Trust Columbus & Franklin County; and the William H. Habig Collaborative Achievement Award to FRAMEWORK – Communities of Licking County & Partners.

To watch a recap of the 2024 State of the Region and learn more about MORPC’s initiatives visit Learn more about Leaders Listen at Leaders Listen Survey Series –

Save the date for the 2025 SOTR – March 21, 2025, at the Columbus Downtown Hilton.

Press Room Information

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Níel Jurist

Sr. Director of Communications & Engagement

Melissa Rapp

Public Information Manager

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