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Downtown Columbus recovery initiative: One year later

An effort was launched one year ago to welcome people back to downtown Columbus. One year later 10TV is taking a look at how it has worked.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — As more workers are returning to the office across the country, Columbus is no exception. However, there are still two days a week there's a difference.

Amy Taylor, the president of Columbus Downtown Development Corporation, said that since last year, they have had a 30% increase in people working downtown.

"...We're seeing a lot of people Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and so what CDC and the business owners and our city partners are working on is how do we get people engaged on Mondays and Fridays? And it's just looking at a new audience, so how do we have more programming that might be on a Friday to draw people down here, even if they're not working," asked Taylor.

Nearly one year ago, Taylor was among the CEOs and city leaders to launch a Columbus comeback campaign called "Downtown is Back." The concept: create a series of affordable — sometimes free — events during spring, summer and fall to get people to return to the city.

RELATED: Local leaders hope return of spring, summer events will draw people back to downtown Columbus

People took full advantage of those concerts and festivals. 

Fast forward to recent weeks, events like The Arnold Sports Festival and March Madness have drawn thousands to downtown Columbus.

Restaurant owners say it's been huge for financial recovery from the pandemic, but there's still room for improvement — and that has to do with the downtown workforce.

“Still feeling the effects at lunch a little bit from that, getting people back in the office... the events are like they were pre-pandemic,” said Tim Emery, owner of Boston's Restaurant & Sports Bar.

“We've definitely seen a lot more people, a lot more office workers, on a day-to-day basis than we did a year ago," said Marc Conte, executive director of Capital Crossroads and Discovery Special Improvement Districts.  "So from that standpoint, it's been very positive. We're trying still to estimate just how many people are back at work."

According to COTA, it is still providing the same routes as it was prior to the pandemic but how often the buses run on those routes has decreased with the number of people working remotely and workforce challenges.

When it comes to people who call downtown home, Taylor said there are currently 12,000 residents but with new construction underway that's slated to increase to 15,000.

“And we're just going to keep growing,” Taylor said.

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