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Columbus, Ohio, Hires City's First Chief Innovation Officer

Mike Stevens, a former deputy director of the Columbus Department of Development, was appointed to the role.

The city of Columbus, Ohio, has hired a new lead for its multi-million-dollar smart city initiative.

Mike Stevens, a former deputy director of the Columbus Department of Development, will head up the effort and serve as the city's first chief innovation officer, according to a report in Columbus Business First.

Mayor Andrew Ginther said Columbus aims to become “the nation’s teacher in how to become a smart city,” with innovation becoming the city’s “ultimate export to other cities.” He noted that the city has secured $367 million in public and private investment pledges, which augments an initial $40 million in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Smart City Challenge.

The funding includes $31 million in investments from Columbus, primarily toward clean energy initiatives by the Columbus Division of Power, according to Business First. Electric vehicles and other upgrades also may be in the mix.

The bulk of the private funds come from American Electric Power Company Inc., which is investing in new electric vehicle charging stations and smart meters to central Ohio homes and business.

Stevens has been CEO of Lake County Partners, a nonprofit economic-development organization outside Chicago, since leaving the city in 2012. He’ll be working in consort with former JobsOhio official Mark Patton, who serves as vice president of Smart Cities at the Columbus Partnership, an economic development organization made up of area CEOs and business executives.

The partnership will pay $30,000 of Stevens’s $182,000 annual salary, according to news reports.

The Columbus smart city team also will be relocating this month to the recently renovated second floor of the Idea Foundry in Franklinton, a creative space designed to foster innovation.