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Indeed, there's plenty in Columbus that comes straight out of the Brookings or McKinsey Global playbook. There's the Edison Welding Institute, for instance: a state-initiated, privately funded enterprise that does cutting-edge manufacturing research resembling the German Fraunhofer institutes. The goal is to keep wages up by maintaining an advantage in making super-high-end exports. (Columbus' population was at one point a third German migrs, and the city has the Teutonic nose-to-the-grindstone, thrifty ethos that marks successful Midwestern towns.) Rather than sending generic delegations to China, as other American cities hunting for investment do, the economic-development team has smartly targeted a relatively untapped group of midsize western Chinese entrepreneurs looking to get their money out of the Middle Kingdom.
They'd be wise to invest. Columbus has gone beyond partisan politics and supply-side nonsense to create real growth. Once the election is over, I suspect many people will start paying more attention to this city--and the many others around the country that are quietly moving ahead while Washington remains gridlocked.