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Welcoming Community

CAMEO Background and History

The Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Association (CAMEO) is an initiative of the Heritage Fund — the Community Foundation of Bartholomew County. CAMEO is an outgrowth of the Heritage Fund’s Welcoming Community project.

The Heritage Fund’s Outreach Committee conducted the Welcoming Community Project in 2004. The research project was inspired by the work of Dr. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class. The Welcoming Community Study was designed to assess the welcoming factor in Bartholomew County among various groups of people — with a focus on “the creative class” or those individuals who can create a vibrant business climate and stimulate future economic growth.

The Welcoming Community Study found that while Columbus has many positive attributes it is not perceived as a welcoming community by all people. Individuals outside the traditional mainstream, YP’s (Young Professionals) and newcomers experienced difficulties and problems adjusting to the community.

The Outreach Committee shared with the community that the perception will make it more difficult for new and existing businesses to recruit talent and could hurt our economic vitality as a community. The Committee made several recommendations to improve the welcoming factor of the community,

  • Improve access to information and the community web presence
  • Implement proactive diversity education strategies
  • Develop an inclusive, vibrant, gathering place
  • Take steps to redefine the Columbus Brand


CAMEO is an extension of the Welcoming Community initiative and addresses the need for proactive diversity strategies. During 2008 the Outreach Committee developed the concept of an umbrella organization of ethnic associations. The umbrella organization would provide a forum for ethnic associations to develop and coordinate programs and activities that promote and foster a Welcoming Community from an ethnic or descent-based perspective.

Three established ethnic associations and six newly formed associations were invited to join with the Heritage Fund to create the Columbus Area Multi-Ethnic Association — CAMEO.

Nine Founding Member Associations:

  • African American Association
  • Columbus Chinese Association
  • Columbus Japanese Business Association
  • Columbus Latin American Association
  • Columbus Korean Association
  • Indian Association of Columbus
  • Middle Eastern Association
  • Pakistan Association
  • Trinbago Association


Our Community

Columbus is a unique city located within Bartholomew County, Indiana. Midwest farming traditions have merged with modern manufacturing and service industries. Standard buildings stand alongside architecturally distinctive structures and people from all over the world call Columbus home. More than 40,000 individuals reside in Columbus with a further 35,000 people living in the surrounding county.

The population of Bartholomew County continues to expand in ethnic diversity. More than 30 international companies from countries such as Japan, China, India, Germany, Korea and Canada have located operating facilities in the community. Companies headquartered in the U.S. with overseas operations maintain a frequent exchange of employees. A total of 44 different native languages are spoken by students within the public school system.

Columbus has received numerous national and international awards. Its modern architecture is acclaimed around the world.

World Headquarters - Cummins Inc.

Columbus is ranked sixth in the nation for Innovative Architectural Design by the American Institute of Architects. It has also been recognized as one of the 100 Best Small Art Towns in America, one of the Safest Metropolitan Areas, (America’s Safest Cities),  One of the Best Places to Live and Launch a Business, (Fortune Small Business Magazine) and one of top Historical Places in the World (National Geographic Traveler Magazine).

According to Nick Jr. Magazine Columbus is on of the Most Playful Towns in the U.S.

Columbus has developed a community brand that represents the reaction of many visitors to the community. Unexpected. Unforgettable. The city is currently in process of revitalizing the downtown and creating a Columbus Entertainment District. The City strives to be the very best community of its size in the country. CAMEO will work towards that goal by ensuring that the community’s growing diversity is recognized and appreciated.