The Point at Otterbein Welcomes Columbus City Schools, Other New Tenants

Posted Jun 15, 2022

On any given day this school year, there have been as many as eight teachers scattered in random spots around The Point — laptops open in front of them, a full virtual classroom on the other side of the screen.

The teachers, along with a few administrators, are from Columbus City Schools, the latest tenant to begin using The Point as a workspace. They’re able to spend their entire workday at the facility teaching classes and, with the help of Otterbein students, can enhance that virtual experience by using resources like lasers and woodshops available to them in the Maker Space. The ultimate goal is to eventually welcome CCS students themselves to The Point, so they can use the available technology and equipment for their own projects.

“As Columbus City Schools looks to improve and reimagine our facilities, The Point provides a great model and source of ideas for the district,” a representative from Columbus City Schools said. “Otterbein students have been very helpful in helping our staff use the Maker Space. To have the perspective of the largest urban district of the state will not only be helpful to Otterbein students, but the mutual learning between Otterbein and Columbus City Schools will help everyone.”

When construction on the building was finished in 2018, it instantly became a bustling environment that was ready to follow through on its potential. U.S. senators visited, Fortune 500 business representatives toured the grounds, and major corporations like Nestle and JPMorgan Chase leased spaces. It was an exciting time for Otterbein students, for whom the tenants on site provided experiential learning opportunities as part of their lease agreement.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic struck, and tenants were suddenly forced to adapt their plans to fit a work-from-home world.

“It’s been hard,” said Erin Bender, the executive director at The Point. “In the past, we never really had to market the spaces, because things just worked out that way. It’s been a little more of a challenge.”

While the switch to remote work hindered The Point early in the pandemic, however, it has also helped in its recovery. When Valvoline closed its Columbus office in favor of having employees work remotely, Kevin Meyers — a North American labor relations manager with the company — opted against working from home and instead took an available office at The Point in May 2021. Since then, he’s facilitated capstone projects for engineering students through Valvoline manufacturing and distribution centers.

“I prefer working in an office environment. I was introduced to Erin Bender and she was extremely helpful in the opportunity at The Point,” Meyers said. “(The capstone groups) are doing outstanding work.”

Then there are the teachers and administrators, who have similarly found a more professional and stable work environment at The Point than they could manage in their own homes. In fact, the facility’s relationship with CCS has gone so well that it Worthington Christian Schools will begin working on-site in the fall.

“People are so much more in tune now with what they want in a workspace,” Bender said. “It’s different, but. I think people really value that opportunity to be close to the Otterbein students. If they’re in a high-talent, high-growth area, where they know they’re going to be hiring a lot of people in the next one to two years, being on a campus like this makes a lot of sense because they get access to talent early.”

While the turnover caused by the pandemic has placed some strain on the still-young facility, Bender acknowledges some turnover is always what they’re looking for. Turnover is what allows the facility to provide a wider range of experiences for students.

The list of current tenants is reflective of that desire to provide diverse opportunities. In addition to CCS and Valvoline, The Point also houses spaces for Perry Protech, the finance tech company Fiserv, and the insurance company Indium. “That’s what it really has been about since the beginning — the student experience, and how we provide that experience,” Bender said.