Columbus Beckons!

By Krinn, Keith L. | Journal of Environmental Health, April 2011 | Go to article overview

Columbus Beckons!


Krinn, Keith L., Journal of Environmental Health


As I begin my eighth president's message, I thought it prudent to give a shout-out for the host city of our 75th Annual Educational Conference (AEC) & Exhibition. Having the AEC in Columbus is an especially proud moment for me, as this city is my adoptive hometown. It is the 75th AEC of our esteemed professional organization--the diamond jubilee of NEHA--and it promises to exceed expectations. As you may recall, I moved my family from Michigan to the Columbus area about eight years ago to accept the environmental health director's position at Columbus Public Health and I do not regret the career move. Although I miss Michigan and its great north woods and trout streams, my family and I have made a new life in the vibrant metropolis of Greater Columbus.

It's a city where almost anything can be found, from the arts to sports venues to just about any activity you could imagine. Columbus offers unbelievable shopping, with two world class malls: the Easton Town Center and the Polaris Fashion Place. Also, Limited Brands is headquartered here. The city has a diverse economy based on education (The Ohio State University, with the nation's largest campus, is here), government (Columbus is Ohio's capital city), insurance, and banking (Nationwide insurance and Huntington National Bank are both headquartered here). We have fashion, defense, aviation, and food. Several restaurant chains have their headquarters here and are major employers: Wendy's, White Castle, Max & Erma's, and Bob Evans Restaurants, to name a few. Columbus also is a leader in medical research, health care, hospitality, retail, and technology.

Modern Columbus has emerged as a technologically sophisticated city. It is home to the world's largest private research and development foundation, the Battelle Memorial Institute; Chemical Abstracts Service, the world's largest clearinghouse of chemical information; and NetJets, the world's largest fractional ownership jet aircraft fleet. In 2009, Business Week named the city as the best place in the country to raise a family. Forbes Magazine in 2008 ranked the city as the number one up-and-coming tech city in the nation. Next February, Columbus will celebrate its bicentennial. Columbus is also known for its wide spectrum of diversity. And summer, when NEHA will be in town, brings spectacular events featuring food, music, and fun. During the AEC, the Worthington Art Festival will also be taking place in that close-by suburb. And then there are the Buckeyes! Ohio State University athletics are a huge part of the cultural fabric in this town. So yeah, I like living here. It's fun. Best of all, even though Columbus is the nation's 15th largest city and biggest in Ohio (most folks don't know that) it has that down-home Midwestern flavor and the people are friendly. You'll see.

Our 75th AEC promises to be well worth the trip and investment. As with recent AECs, we will be dividing the training and educational offerings into two distinct learning environments: the Learning Labs and the traditional Lectures. These will appeal to all of our many generational levels. Based upon feedback from the last two years, NEHA has enhanced the Learning Labs to make them even more interactive and the ratio of Learning Labs to Lectures has increased by about 10%.

NEHA continues to "green" our premier event, as we should. Attendees will again be able to purchase carbon credits to offset their travel. NEHA staff will work closely with the Columbus Hyatt Regency staff to provide "green" alternatives in both the food service and lodging commodities, as in previous years. For the first time ever, online registration has been made available for speakers and vendors to further decrease the amount of paper being used. Our membership is encouraged to register online if at all possible for the same reason.

We will again offer the Virtual AEC, both concurrent with the live event and after. Not only is the Virtual AEC a benefit to those who cannot attend in person, it is especially useful in enhancing the experience of the live attendees. …

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