October 2015 Columbus CEO Magazine Downtown and some of the neighborhoods close to it are hot markets in the Columbus Region right now, and that is not likely to abate anytime soon. That’s a perfect storm for companies like Connect Realty LLC and Mid-Ohio Contracting Services, Inc. “We see a massive amount of momentum when discussing the interest in the Downtown market,” says Brad DeHays, founder of both companies, which have invested heavily in the urban market. As more national and global businesses discover the region and move to locate here, the population will likely continue to grow, DeHays says. He expects more mid-sized and technology-based companies to move closer to the center of the region, while fewer invest in and locate workers in isolated office parks. “With this added growth, we will see small clusters of grouped business and renovated commercial retail strips in the communities close to Downtown that will benefit from this resurgence,” DeHays says. Mid-Ohio is the construction arm of DeHays’ operations and has grown from 10 employees to 34 this year. Connect Realty is the real estate brokerage, development and management company, which has increased from five employees to 15, with the expectation that another five will be added in the coming year, he says. “We are opportunistic investors and developers and we are excited about growth in our real estate management and construction services,” DeHays says. “We have made several investments in housing Downtown focused on the increased housing gap.” Connect developed a Micro Living line and is building studio and “micro” apartments Downtown at 260 S. Fourth St. and at West Long and South Front streets. The company focuses on renovating historic properties with help from state historic tax credits. And it can offer affordable leases for its micro units, thanks to the city of Columbus’ work-force housing initiative grant, DeHays says. “As prices have risen in the luxury apartment market Downtown, these apartments are in position to fill a housing gap,” he says. “And we feel that the South Fourth Street area is becoming a dense entertainment strip that will be the landing area for residents of the Capital Crossroads District.” A key for future growth in the Columbus Region will be for state and city development departments to continue to connect businesses with developers, while providing competitive incentives for growth, DeHays says. “Local agencies have done an excellent job in recent years to boost momentum and keep development dollars local,” he says. “There are numerous hot markets across the country. We are very satisfied to have a few of them in our backyard.” Transportation will be another area that the region’s economic development leaders must address. Parking remains an issue in the Downtown area and surrounding communities and that is not likely to change soon, DeHays says. “We are aware that parking is becoming an everyday conversation for the Downtown market,” DeHays says. “Until we make the transition to mass transit being an acceptable form of travel Downtown, we are going to see parking prices raise consistently.” Increased development and use of public transportation may be the answer, but could be a tough sell. “The permanent solution is a change of habit, but people in Columbus like to drive their cars,” DeHays says.

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