Urban League's national conference to bring conversation about digital progress to Columbus
Local leaders gathered Friday to discuss the impact the National Urban League will have on Columbus when the civil rights organization hosts its annual conference at the Greater Columbus Convention Center Aug. 1-4.
The conference is expected to attract more than 20,000 attendees. Experience Columbus has estimated the economic impact to the area will be about $4.6 million.
“Beyond the significant economic impact the National Urban League Conference carries, this conference will bring a nationwide conversation about and urban empowerment to Columbus,” city council president Shannon G. Hardin said during the news conference at the convention center.
The Columbus Urban League was chosen to host the event with title sponsorships from American Electric Power, Cardinal Health, L Brands Foundation, Nationwide and Toyota.
“Columbus represents one of America’s most thriving and diverse cities,” Mayor Andy Ginther said. “Our strength lies in our diversity, and we know that different opinions and viewpoints produce more comprehensive solutions to challenges that are then more likely to succeed."
The theme of this year’s conference, "Save Our Cities: Powering the Digital Revolution," will spotlight Columbus as a hub of higher education, research and high-tech industry. Officials were quick to point out the Smart City program among others.
However, the National Urban League will use the theme to highlight opportunities and services for individuals who could be left behind in the digital age, Columbus Urban League CEO Stephanie Hightower told me.
"Our hope for this year's conference is that people in Columbus will see the relevance and importance of the digital age for the urban core and that those people can come and use Columbus Urban League for services," Hightower said. "Our children can't be what they can't see."
U.S. Rep. Joyce Beatty, an Ohio Democrat, said "I have no doubt this year’s conference will help showcase our community’s commitment to ‘powering the digital revolution’ and remind all Americans why Columbus is Ohio’s 'smart' capital."