As I read the latest DDN article about city, regional and state officials meeting behind closed doors to figure out how to “drawing NCR-like companies to Dayton”, I simply shook my head. I’ll actually give officials the benefit of the doubt since I saw nobody actually quoted as saying “NCR-like companies”; I’ll assume that was a DDN attempt to attract views by using the buzz-word de’jour – NCR. Still, I can’t help but wonder what ideas were shared between all of these powers-that-be. Specifically – how many times was the phrase “tax incentive” tossed around?
It actually wasn’t what was said that I’m that concerned about, but more importantly – what wasn’t said. Did anybody talk about improving Dayton’s services and quality of life that would help attract young talent and ultimately the businesses that follow that talent? While I agree that we must be looking at ways to directly attract businesses to our city and region, I would argue that it is every bit as important to improve our city’s environment and transform it in a way that attracts people. Without doing the latter, it is a waste of time to bother trying to attract any businesses, let alone Fortune 500 corporations.
The following is a 30 minute video that I strongly recommend you view when you have the time. It is a piece about Portland, OR – and it could very well be used as a call to action for Dayton. Note – Portland continues to attract residents from across the country DESPITE having an unemployment rate of 11.8%. The idea: transform our entire downtown area (and beyond) into an uber-pedestrian and bicycle friendly environment, start Ohio’s first bicycle-share system, add a 3C/D rail station, and implement the first of many streetcar routes as has already been recommended. It is all about “sense of place”, and it can do more to attract residents, business and investment into our city than any corporate welfare check could ever hope to do.