Jordan Davis, 30
Director of Smart Cities, Columbus Partnership
Big break: Played a pivotal role in organizing the winning bid for the Smart City Challenge
Even though she grew up in central Ohio, Jordan Davis had no intention of staying in Columbus after graduating from Ohio State University.
But Davis stayed because of a job opportunity. And as a young professional, she realized she hadn’t appreciated what had been in her own backyard.
With the support of city business leaders and the university’s president, she created a program that welcomed Ohio State’s freshmen on their first day of school and introduced them to transportation options, restaurants and internship opportunities.
The event has become an annual tradition, and 30-year-old Davis’ ties to the city have grown stronger.
Since graduating in 2011, Davis has worked in a variety of positions at Columbus Partnership, a nonprofit that brings together business leaders and local institutions to enhance the region’s economic prospects. She’s the organization’s Smart Cities director.
“I’ve always believed business can do good for a community, and not just in business-to-business relationships with each other. But when the community succeeds, business succeeds, and the partnership lives by that mantra,” she said.
In 2016, Davis did much of the grant-writing groundwork and relationship building on Columbus’ application for the Smart City Challenge, a $40 million competition run by the U.S. Department of Transportation that sought proposals on how cities could improve their transportation networks with data and new technology.
Of 78 applications from large and midsize cities across the country, Columbus emerged as the winner. A key reason for the victory was that Davis had helped raise $90 million in private funding to complement the money provided by the Transportation Department. The experience fortified her belief that the business community could work hand-in-hand with the city to build a more sustainable and efficient transportation network underpinned by a new data platform and electric charging infrastructure.
“Smart Columbus has given us a platform to reimagine and deploy a better way for our residents to get around,” she said. “I’m born and raised in central Ohio, and passionate about making this community as good as it can be, and transportation is an area where we have room for improvement.”
— Pete Bigelow