Smart Columbus Linden

Before the holidays, the two shuttles arrived at St. Stephen’s and started closed-course testing and operator training in the back parking lot. During this time the shuttles were wrapped and went from plain white to Smart Columbus rainbow and OneLinden blue and green. Take a look at them now!

This week, the shuttles will continue closed-course testing in the parking lot and if all goes well, they will start on-road testing as soon as Wednesday, January 8th. During on-road setup and testing, an operator will be on board while the vehicle maps the route and test the technologies in the real-world environment. If you encounter the shuttles during on-road testing, please be aware and courteous. Remember the shuttles will travel at an average of 3 mph during route setup and up to 9mph during testing. During the testing, we’ll be evaluating vehicle technology in its surrounding environment such as stopping at stop signs and following other vehicles.

On-road testing will continue through January leading up to the launch anticipated to be late January.

Upcoming Open Interviews for Shuttle Operators | JAN 14

In partnership with EmpowerBus, local mobility start-up, we’ll be holding Open Interviews for Autonomous Shuttle Operators at St. Stephen’s Community House on Tuesday, January 14 at 10 a.m.-12 p.m. and 6 p.m.-8 p.m.

EmpowerBus is hiring up to 6 operators to ride and oversee the operation of 2 self-driving shuttles servicing a 4 stop route in South Linden. The vehicles will have stops at the Linden Transit Center, Rosewind, Douglas Rec Center, and St. Stephen’s Community House. The shuttles will operate 7 days a week from 6 a.m.-8 p.m. with suspensions in service from 8-9:30 a.m. and 2-3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Positions start at $15/hr. for full-time and part-time positions are available. Full-time positions offer benefits.

Attend these open interview hours to learn more. No resume necessary. Apply online now by filling out an application at Select “Autonomous Operator” under position type.

Linden is set to make history next month as Smart Columbus launches a self-driving shuttle in South Linden, the first public self-driving shuttle operating daily in a neighborhood setting in the country! The shuttle route, known as the Linden LEAP (Linden Empowers All People), will provide free rides to anyone wishing to travel between St. Stephens Community House, Douglas Recreation Center, Rosewind Resident Council Building and the Linden Transit Center.

What’s the purpose of the LEAP?

The LEAP was created to help South Linden residents get to and from important destinations where there aren’t any bus stops. The City and Smart Columbus worked with Linden residents and stakeholders to identify the stops, which provide access to healthy food, childcare, healthcare, affordable housing, recreation, COTA’s CMAX line and more.

Is it free to ride and how often do the shuttles come?

Yes, the shuttle is free to all and will pick up passengers at each stop every 12 minutes. Safety is our top priority. We’re erring on the side of caution and suspending service of the LEAP during school arrival and release times. The tentative service schedule is 6 AM to 8 AM, 9:30 AM to 3 PM, and 4:30 PM to 8 PM daily. The shuttles can accommodate strollers and wheelchairs and can carry up to 12 passengers.


How do self-driving vehicles work?

The shuttles use multiple layers of redundant technologies in order to maximize the safety of passengers and road users. These technologies include sensors, LiDAR, cameras, GPS, odometry, and inertial measurement units, which ensure the vehicle follows the route and avoids obstacles. A trained operator will always be on board to oversee the technology and to take over control of the vehicle if needed. Operators are also available to answer passenger questions about the technology and to assist passengers. The shuttle will never go faster than 15 MPH and will typically travel around 12 MPH.

When will it launch?

The shuttle is part of a one-year pilot program funded by the Smart City Challenge grant awarded to the City of Columbus by the US Department of Transportation. Shuttle testing along the route without passengers will begin on a closed course in St. Stephens Community House’s parking lot the week of December 16th.  Shuttle testing on public roads along the route without passengers will start in early January.  The shuttle is anticipated to launch to the public in late January. The whole community will be invited to attend the launch event and to take the first rides aboard the shuttle.

EmpowerBus, the local mobility company in charge of operating the shuttles, is actively looking to hire 8 people, 4 full-time employees, and 4 part-time employees. Positions start at $15 an hour. Full-time employees will receive benefits. Stay tuned for open interview hours in the New Year. Interested individuals can submit their application at  by selecting “Autonomous Operator” under position type.

As you take rides on the shuttle, your real-time feedback will help inform other uses of this exciting technology in Ohio, and across the nation. Stay tuned for more to come!

The Community of Caring Development Foundation hosted the first of six open house events on December 21 to assist residents in learning more about The 614 for Linden investment opportunities announced by Columbus Mayor Andrew J. Ginther in November. The New Salem Church Fellowship Hall was full of residents, business owners, collaborative partners, agency representatives, partners of The 614 for Linden and more.

The next open house will be held Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020 at St. Stephen’s Community House, 1500 E 17th Ave, Columbus, OH 43219

The 614 for Linden represents a $25 million investment into Linden. The 614 stands for the six nonprofits, one neighborhood, and four community development financial institutions (CDFIs) who are collaborating to have a transformational impact to stabilize the neighborhood.

The 614 for Linden is a collaborative of Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) and nonprofits that seek to implement four of the Big Ideas identified in the City of Columbus’ One Linden Plan. The goal of the initiative is to build upon the work of the One Linden Plan to create an equitable, opportunity-rich neighborhood for existing residents of Linden. To achieve this goal, the initiative seeks to comprehensively invest in Linden as a means to catalyze additional investment to preserve and increase affordable housing and commercial development, provide access to technical assistance and capital for local small businesses, increase healthy food access and offer health services to area residents.

In 2019, The 614 for Linden was awarded a $5 million grant from JPMorgan Chase’s Partnerships for Raising Opportunity in Neighborhoods (PRO Neighborhoods) program. PRO Neighborhoods specifically works with collaborating CDFIs and awards these collaboratives capital grants of up to $5 million over three years to invest in meeting the needs of communities through targeted financing initiatives. Columbus is one of only seven winning submissions in the 2019 national PRO Neighborhoods competition. A summary of the goals and metrics outlined in the application follows.


1 Stabilize and Expand Housing Options

Stable housing is foundational to community success; The 614 places a substantial focus on affordable housing and rapid rehousing programming.

Our Goals:

  • Develop a Linden housing loan pool of approximately $20 Million to finance the acquisition, rehabilitation, and/or construction of affordable housing units
  • Target loan funds to preserve or create approximately 500 affordable housing units for individuals and families who earn less than 80% of the area’s median income
  • Provide rapid rehousing services for up to 200 individuals experiencing or near homelessness

2 Develop Business and Support Entrepreneurs

Living-wage employment opportunities and locally-accessible services and amenities are critical ingredients to a thriving neighborhood.

Our Goals:

  • Offer consulting, technical assistance, and other resources to 80 small businesses, including providing 45 microloans to local entrepreneurs starting or expanding an operation
  • Create around 100 full-time jobs, as a result of neighborhood investment and new businesses

3 Build Community Investment

Concerted investment efforts are integral for creating an opportunity-rich neighborhood for existing Linden residents.

Our Goals:

  • Develop two commercial facilities and one community facility that spurs additional neighborhood investment

4 Support Resident Health

Healthy food access and improvements to health outcomes are high priorities for Linden.

Our Goals:

  • Focus on “wraparound” health services, particularly prenatal and maternal programs
  • Provide funds to create or attract one or more businesses to provide healthy food access

In celebration of National Apprentice Week, learn about careers in the skilled construction trades, meet construction professionals who can answer your questions, and learn how to apply for a career in the construction industry at the Linden Community and Building Trades Apprenticeship Fair, Nov. 13, 6 p.m. at New Salem Church. Professional services will be present to help meet and navigate the eligibility requirements. The event is free to attend, however, pre-registration is encouraged. To registration, go to The event is sponsored by the Community of Caring Development Foundation and the Community Workforce and Apprenticeship Committee, in cooperation with the City of Columbus, the Columbus/Central Ohio Building and Construction Trades Council and the New Salem Baptist Church.


Stop by and join the Community of Caring Development Foundation and the Greater Linden Business Network, representing the Linden Community, at the upcoming Reinvest Ohio Summit, Monday, Sept. 23 from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Hilton Columbus Downtown, 410 N. High St., Columbus. The summit brings together community leaders, financial institutions, health care leaders, advocacy groups and public officials to discover ways to reinvest in communities across Ohio. We will discuss strategies to combat disinvestment and displacement and to increase access to affordable housing and credit using tools like the Community Reinvestment Act. Join us to map out a blueprint for collaboration and organizing to increase community wealth across the state.



Monday, September 23rd

9:30 AM – 5:00 PM

Columbus, OH


  • Advocacy and organizing groups working on economic justice issues
  • Community leaders and faith-based institutions
  • Affordable housing and housing counseling organizations
  • Fair housing and civil rights organizations
  • Healthcare Institutions
  • Community Development Financial Institutions
  • Financial Institutions
  • Neighborhood stabilization and community revitalization groups
  • Academics and foundations
  • Social service providers and government agencies
  • Local small businesses and business development agencies



Greater Cleveland Reinvestment Coalition

Greater Cincinnati Community Reinvestment Coalition

Akron Summit County Reinvestment Coalition

Reinvest Toledo Coalition



Ohio Association of CDCs

Corporation for Ohio Appalachian Development (COAD)

Southeastern Ohio Legal Services (SEOLS)

The Think Tank on Poverty

IMPACT Community Action

Homes on the Hill CDC

MY Project USA

Economic & Community Development Institute (ECDI)

Community of Caring Development Foundation/Linden



Special Community Member rates and scholarships are available for people who are experiencing financial hardship. 

E-mail Chloe Sabharwal at for more information.


Follow NCRC on Twitter and like us on Facebook to receive updates. Use the hashtag #ReinvestOhio to let us know what you hope to gain for your community by attending the Summit.


New information will be posted as it is available – check back for updates!