Project Description

A dynamic, progressive city with an authentic hometown feel, the City of Westerville is just a 20-minute drive from Ohio’s State Capitol in Columbus, the home to The Ohio State University, and one of the most successful economic development regions in the country. While known for its cheerful, family-oriented culture, the city also has the right attributes required for economic development success.  When Westerville wanted to become an even more aggressive competitor for jobs and investment, the city chose Boyette to design a strategic economic development plan that would place Westerville in the best possible position to compete and win against other like-minded communities with similar aspirations for economic development.

Boyette recognized Otterbein University–a small private college with a liberal arts tradition in the heart of the city–as one of the Westerville’s key assets in advancing the city’s economic development. Boyette recommended that Westerville and Otterbein partner to explore the viability of creating an innovation and entrepreneurial center at Otterbein University. Such a center would provide world-class opportunities for research and development activities in Westerville’s targeted sectors, but realistically pursing this recommendation would not be easy.

Instead of criticizing the idea as being too “out there,” unrealistic and difficult, Westerville and Otterbein embraced this challenge, with Otterbein engaging Boyette to conduct an all-inclusive feasibility study for an innovation center on the campus. In the study, Boyette stressed that this center must be different than anything else of its kind. Just a year after Boyette completed the feasibility study, Otterbein opened the innovation center now known as The Point at Otterbein.

“What we believe is really unique about this facility,” Erin Bender, Executive Director of The Point said, “is that we’ve brought the community in, and we’ve brought businesses in as tenants and we’ve brought our academic programs all together, collaborating in one facility. It’s not necessarily entrepreneurship based, or student startup based or student directed based–it’s really about the collaboration, the partnership and the great things that we can create and develop with those partners…working in the same facility.”

Westerville had previously positioned itself as progressive with development of the city-owned WeConnect Community Data Center, which supports the expansive data and technology needs of the Westerville business community. The city is home to a significant white-collar business economy rooted in healthcare, finance and technical service support companies that enjoy a strong business climate and unmatched city support through programs like BusinessWISE, an incentive program for energy efficiency developed through collaboration with Boyette as part of ongoing implementation services. In addition to these aspects, The Point stands to serve as one of the unique and innovative assets in the entrepreneurial ecosystem of Central Ohio.

Otterbein President Kathy Krendl said, “Not only is The Point changing how students learn; it has the potential to distinguish this university and its long standing partner–the City of Westerville. The future calls for experienced problem-solvers and bold mindsets. The Point is where these leaders will learn differently. This is how higher education works in the 21st century.”

Inspired by Boyette’s bold recommendation, The Point at Otterbein University is revolutionizing innovation centers by bringing education, industry, business and community all together in a collaborative working place. Today The Point is home to an impressive list of tenants like Nestle and Honda, as well as startups Nikola Labs and edgeThingZ, all conducting world-class research in food science, financial technology, and advanced manufacturing. The Point serves as a reminder that if the right partners are brought together at the right time, then even the toughest challenges are possible.

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