May 17, 2022

New Leadership – Columbia Metropolitan Magazine

For the first time in 12 years, Columbia has a new man at the helm. As I walked into our beautiful City Hall, just behind the State House as the city’s oldest government building, I was thrilled to learn more about Daniel Rickenmann’s vision for Columbia and what he hopes to accomplish. as mayor.

What are your three priorities as mayor?

Top priorities for me are making sure we have a safe community, that we have opportunities for our residents and businesses to grow, and that we create more opportunities for home ownership. We are in a community of 46,000 homes in the city, and over 50% are renters.

What did you learn about Columbia during the campaign that you didn’t know before?

I had never really seen the groundswell of neighborhoods, businesses and people wanting to engage and not being happy with where we are as a city. They want us to be the number one city, they want us to have a thriving economy, they want their children and grandchildren to have opportunities that allow them to stay here. The question is, how do we improve Columbia so that we’re not number three in the state, but number one?

Tell me how you ended up in Colombia.

I grew up as a first generation American in a single family home. My parents immigrated here from Switzerland in the late 60’s to work for Roger Milliken of Milliken & Company and loved the United States. They were naturalized in the early 70s, but my father sadly passed away when I was young. For them, the spirit of this country was something special, and this spirit is a big part of this city.

I came to Columbia as a USC student largely because it was one of the few public schools that offered a dyslexia program, which I really struggled with. When I graduated, I had no plans to stay in Colombia. I was literally heading overseas, but pushed the date back six months to squeeze in another football season! My friends were finding jobs here and starting businesses, and there were so many opportunities. So that ended up keeping me here.

Greenville, Charlotte, and Charleston tend to attract many young professionals to settle in their cities. How do you make Columbia an attractive place to work and live for the thousands of students leaving after graduation?

Part of that is commitment. We hired 1,700 middle school students in this election. Other communities have town and dress relationships in which students, neighborhoods, businesses, and government work together to maintain good relationships, grow, and exchange ideas. I reached out to Alex Harrell, who is the current student body president at USC. We’re going to start bringing student representatives to meetings and creating a town and dress where they’ll help us make decisions.

We don’t have a freshman program where we integrate them into the community, like floating down the river, going to Soda City, doing day-long volunteer work in various neighborhoods. They have to go to the Congaree Swamp and the Columbia Museum of Art. If students are engaged, they are more likely to stay here.

I also think the things we’re doing from a regulatory standpoint, like making it easier for small businesses to open and recruiting new businesses, will help. I think if we can provide opportunities, we can capture these children, but if they stay in the six-block area where they go to school, we will never keep them. Benedict College and Allen University are the same way as Columbia College and Columbia International University. We don’t need to focus only on our flagship product, but on all colleges. People forget that we’re all over town. We need to create these opportunities to engage all of our students.

Collectively we have so much talent here, so many great ideas. I also push to create a collaborative room where startups and students can meet and collaborate, and they can also have access to mentors, capital, angel investors and micro-loans to boost their ideas, bringing everyone together .