Scenario Analysis


insight2050 is an effort to prepare Central Ohio for future growth. With the region slated to grow by up to 1 million people and an additional 300,000 jobs* by 2050, insight2050 is designed to provide local and regional policy makers, business leaders, developers, and public stakeholders with a clear and objective understanding of the impacts of varying growth and public investment decisions. insight2050 is not about producing a regional plan or regulating how land use decisions are made by the more than 200 jurisdictions that make up the Central Ohio region. Rather, it strives to arm decision makers and stakeholders with solid and defensible information about the fiscal, mobility, environmental, and public health impacts of development and investment choices.

The analysis behind this first phase of insight2050 relies on the RapidFire modeling platform developed by project consultants Calthorpe Associates. This model facilitates the creation of regional land use scenarios and allows for the modeling of a complete range of metrics, including land consumption, infrastructure costs, air pollution, household expenses for transportation and utilities, and public health and safety costs. While land use patterns reflect many separate local decision making processes, the objective scenarios and metrics generated by the RapidFire model provide critical insights to public and private decision makers about the impacts of key policies, while also supporting conversations about the region’s future competitiveness, sustainability, and quality of life. The scenarios are intended to illustrate the impacts of varying future growth patterns, and are not meant to serve as a prescriptive vision or plan for the region.

This report describes the range of scenarios developed for the Central Ohio region, the process to build them and customize the RapidFire model for use in Central Ohio, and the analysis of the scenarios for a complete range of fiscal, transportation, environmental, public health, and other metrics.

insight2050 Steering Committee and Consulting Team

insight2050 is a collaboration among the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), Columbus 2020, and the Urban Land Institute (ULI) Columbus. This phase of the process has been guided by a Steering Committee made up of over 30 volunteers from the public and private sectors. Most major cities and counties are represented, as are key academic, non-profit, and community stakeholders from across the 7-county insight2050 study area (Delaware, Fairfield, Franklin, Licking, Madison, Pickaway, and Union counties). The Steering Committee has been critical in providing input on scenarios, modeling assumptions, and project communication. There is also a project Executive Committee made up of representatives from MORPC, Columbus 2020, the City of Columbus, the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), and ULI Columbus; see Appendix D for a complete list of Steering Committee and Executive Committee members.

The insight2050 consulting team has been led by Calthorpe Associates, one of the nation’s most experienced planning firms. Calthorpe Associates’ work has focused on the customization and deployment of the RapidFire model for Central Ohio, and the evaluation and presentation of the impacts of future growth and development decisions. The customization of fiscal impacts assumptions was performed by market analysis experts Strategic Economics.

Scenario Analysis for Central Ohio

Like other metropolitan regions across the US, Central Ohio is looking towards a future population that is significantly different than the population that drove its growth over the past decades. As a nation and a region, we are seeing an increasing proportion of aging baby boomers and young adults. Indeed, these age cohorts are slated to represent nearly 80% of the growth in Central Ohio over the next two to three decades. This changing population is expressing a demand for a broader range of housing types – more small-lot single family homes, more townhomes, and more multifamily apartments and condos – in more complete, walkable communities. In many ways, insight2050 scenarios are aimed at thinking ahead to how Central Ohio will meet these needs while keeping an eye on fiscal and environmental sustainability, the cost of living, and quality of life associated with development decisions.

The insight2050 scenarios described in this report range from a depiction of ‘Past Trends’ to more ‘Focused Growth’ and ‘Maximum Infill’ options. Again, the scenarios do not prescribe any specific solution, but rather lay out different ways the region can grow and accommodate projected growth. More and better information brings more people and more interests to the table, helps people understand the impacts of their choices, and leads to more sustainable decisions.

* Original analyses anticipated an increase of 500,000 people in Central Ohio by 2050, but the region has been growing significantly faster than previously estimated. Based on growth patterns between 2010 and 2016, it is now projected that Central Ohio can expect a population increase of 850,000 to 1 million by 2050. Quantitative projections for job growth in this section have not yet been adjusted to reflect the new population growth predictions.