Columbus, the capital of Ohio, is a well-blended mixture of government, industry, and the enormous Ohio State University. Downtown is fairly dull and many inner neighborhoods have been neglected, but efforts are underway to revive them and some people are moving back into the city. The university brings a strong intellectual and cultural base to the city. Many businesses are attracted to Columbus because of its central location relative to the rest of the country, an educated population and good work force. There is a strong high tech presence, and other big corporate names include The Limited and Abercrombie & Fitch (retail), Nationwide Insurance, Wendy’s, and Cardinal Health. This diverse base brings more economic stability and growth than many of its Rust Belt neighbors.
Sprawling but attractive residential suburbs have emerged, especially to the northwest, starting with the high end Upper Arlington just west of Ohio State, moving out to Hilliard along the I-270 beltway, northwest to Dublin and around the corner to Worthington and Westerville to the east. These areas have excellent housing, shopping, schools, golf courses and civic amenities in a layout more spacious, wooded and attractive than many similar cities in the region. Throughout the area housing value per dollar spent is notably high, but some of the transportation and air-quality effects of sprawl are starting to show. There is plenty of employment in commercial centers in and near these suburbs. Cost of living is attractive for what is available and the Buying Power Index is strong for a bigger city.
Columbus hasn’t graduated to the level of major-league sports, except in NHL hockey. Professional sports and stronger cultural amenities are available in Cleveland to the north and Cincinnati to the south. The area has a good airport and discount air service, and the central location makes it popular with frequent business travelers. Columbus is one of a few cities used extensively for test marketing because of its statistically average American population.
The area is flat with four north-south stream valleys forming relatively deep, wooded gorges. Surrounding areas are mostly level plateaus of mixed open land and woods. Columbus has changeable weather. Cold Canadian air masses frequently invade the region, while moist air from the Gulf of Mexico often reaches central Ohio during the summer and to a lesser extent in the fall and winter. Summers are warm and humid with little wind and occasional thundershowers. Winters are typical of the area and latitude with cold temperatures, rain, and snow. Occasionally Atlantic winter storms will affect the area. Precipitation is distributed throughout the year with a little less in fall. Fog is common, especially in the valleys. First freeze is late October, last is mid-April.