In September 2008, Five Rivers Metroparks opened the region’s premiere mountain biking trail area and the first of several future outdoor recreation facilities they have planned. Check out this awesome video from Andy Snow that highlights the trail and gives you a good idea of what you can expect. So get out and live!
Portland, Boulder, Madison, San Francisco, Seattle, Austin, Chicago – these are cities known to be magnets to young college graduates and the “creative class” that so many cities including Dayton are trying to retain and attract. But what else do these cities have in common? They are all known as some of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the country according to a city ranking by the League of American Bicyclists – the standard for cities looking to capitalize on the growing popularity of the bicycle culture. While Dayton must continue to work hard at attracting businesses that provide good jobs, we must at the same time be doing everything we can to make our city attractive for living – and bicycles can play a major role in that.
Columbus is the only Ohio city that ranks on the Bicycle Friendly Community list (bronze level), but Dayton has the potential to join and even surpass Columbus as a bicycle-friendly community. Our region already enjoys one of the best recreational trail networks in the country, with main trails converging at Riverscape in Downtown Dayton where the region’s first bike hub is now being built. We also have the new MetroParks Mountain Biking Area that is growing in popularity. Imagine if we capitalized on these unique recreational assets by integrating them with a city and region-wide transportation network that encourages more people to use bicycles for short trips and even commutes to work.
There are few things as versatile and that transcend race, gender, socio-economics, age or even physical fitness level more than a bicycle – whether being used recreationally or for basic transportation. By transforming our streets to be more pedestrian and bicycle-friendly, we can:
- Provide low-cost transportation options to those unable to afford automobiles as well as those that simply want to drive less
- Decrease traffic congestion and pollution
- Lower obesity levels by increasing physical activity
- Add vibrancy and safety to our downtown streets
- Allow people to spend less on gas and perhaps spend more in our local economy
The City of Dayton is taking initial steps by implementing the region’s first dedicated bike lanes and sharrows (shared lanes that are marked) when it completes the downtown two-way street conversions over the next several months. It is a nice nod to the Wright Brothers that St. Clair Street will have one of these dedicated bike lanes, since it shares its name with a line of bicycles that the Wrights built and sold. Added to groups like Courteous Mass (a grassroots urban bicycle awareness movement) and the Drive Less Live More campaign, we are moving in the right direction toward a comprehensive plan that aims to put Dayton on the map for bicycle-friendly communities. This includes efforts as simple as expanding driver/bicycle education and awareness, and as complex as implementing bike share programs and “Complete Streets” plans that truly transform our streets from being designed predominantly for the automobile to being equally accessible to autos, bicycles and pedestrians alike.
We all know about the Wright Brothers and how their invention of flight has helped shape Dayton over the past several decades, though few would suggest that it is their prior work with bicycles that may represent the future for Dayton. However, in this age of rising transportation costs, traffic congestion, growing obesity, climate change and culture shifts, cities across the country are discovering that the bicycle can play a pivotal role in the quest for economic prosperity. It is time for Dayton to join this trend.
Join the first Miami Valley Cycling Summit this Friday at UD, where government officials, experts, community leaders and bicycle advocates from across the region AND the country will be presenting plans already implemented in other cities and ideas for us here in Dayton. As of the time of this post there are over 275 registrants.
Photo Credit: kworth30 – Flickr.com
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.
Those who work for the City of Dayton or follow city news know that the city has had a rule in its city charter since 1987 stating that anybody employed by the City of Dayton (including police and fire) must live in a primary residence within the city limits. This rule has been fought by many employees over the past several years, and it has gone through the court system all the way to the Ohio Supreme Court, where a state ban on the practice has just today been ruled constitutional. In the mean time, it has been discussed elsewhere that the city employs private detectives to snoop on employees they suspect are not actually living within the city limits. And whether or not that is true, it can’t be argued that the city has paid quite a bit of money in legal fees to keep the fight going. But what exactly is the city trying to accomplish? Why does the city insist that this residency rule is worth so much to fight for? What is the city afraid of?
Fellow blogger David Esrati has blogged about Dayton’s residency rule as perhaps others have, so I’m hardly the first blogger to weigh in on this. But I believe the residency rule should be lifted and the fight to keep it should end. Aside from whatever this means from a legal implementation stand point (it was in fact voted on by Dayton’s citizens), the residency rule is much more trouble than its worth – and I believe our city would be better off without it.
I’ve heard all the reasons for keeping the residency rule – everything from the fear of a mass city exodus by city employees if it was lifted, to the notions that city employees will do their jobs more effectively if they have a personal stake in the city (ie a primary residence), and fire and police will be more knowledgeable and empathetic about city neighborhoods if they in fact live in them. But are these in fact rational arguments? I say no.
If the residency rule is ultimately overturned, I’m sure many employees will immediately look to move out of the city. Perhaps they wish to move to a better school district or have other reasons for wishing to move as maybe their personal circumstances have changed since when they first took the city job. But I doubt the exodus will be as massive as is feared – if employees really wanted to move out of the city then they would do so and simply take a job elsewhere. And good employees will typically give 100% if they are doing a job they enjoy and working for management they believe in; whether they actually live in the city or not is irrelevant.
Lifting the residency rule would also have tremendous benefits. Imagine increasing the size of the talent pool from which to choose city employees – does anybody not think this would be a benefit to our city? I’d rather hire a stellar candidate who lives in Oakwood or Kettering instead of having to settle on a mediocre employee whose best qualification is being a city resident. I’m not at all suggesting that all of our city staff are mediocre (I happen to know some very talented city staffers, and our fire and police are already top notch), but even if we only replaced city staff through attrition we’d still be better off if we had the whole region as a talent pool to choose from.
Finally, the residency rule is simply another negative reinforcement that sends a terrible message and makes Dayton seem like a desperate and stifling organization to work for. Instead of yet more fighting on the part of the city to keep the residency rule intact (next step – U.S. Supreme Court?), I expect more out of our city’s leadership. While we’d lose some employees as city residents, we’d also have a chance to gain new residents as employees from other parts of the region who might ultimately choose to move INTO the city as they become more involved through their employment in it. That may sound idealistic, but isn’t that the kind of thinking we need to move our city forward?
(Image credit: Blue Day Media)
Read more discussion about this topic at the DMM Forum – and join the conversation
I’ve noticed with all of the news articles, opinion pieces and various commentary – everybody refers to this as “NCR relocating to Atlanta”. Atlanta this, Atlanta that. Yes, there is a lesson to be learned here for Dayton and it is exactly what I wrote about in my previous post – the need for the entire Dayton region to once and for all give up on all the parochialistic attitudes and come together a one single region – first in attitude, but ultimately in organization and government.
NCR is not moving to Atlanta; its new headquarters will be in Duluth, GA which is not only 30 miles away from the city of Atlanta, it is in a different county (Gwinnett). NCR had already moved customer service operations to Peachtree, GA – 35 miles southwest of Atlanta in yet another county. Additionally, Georgia is building a brand new manufacturing facility for NCR that will employ 870 people in Columbus, GA – which is over 100 miles away from Atlanta and actually closer to Montgomery, AL. But despite these distances from the center city, the story is “NCR Moves to Atlanta.”
Distance-wise, this would roughly be the equivalent of a corporation locating its headquarters in Springfield, OH, moving its customer service office to Mason, OH and opening a manufacturing plant in Findlay, OH (with commute times being much longer in GA). But given this Ohio equivalent example, does anybody think that this would be called a win for Dayton, Ohio? Does anybody think that the name “Dayton” would even be mentioned?
Granted, it is unfair to compare Georgia to Ohio since Georgia truly has one single major city that everything else revolves around while Ohio has several large and medium-sized urban centers that are relatively close to one another. Not to mention that Atlanta is the largest metro region in the entire southeast and dwarfs Ohio’s largest metro regions, let alone smaller Dayton… we may be talking apples to oranges (or apples to peaches as the case may be). But Atlanta-proper is actually not that big – if Montgomery County, Ohio was a single city it would in fact be bigger than Atlanta in terms of population.
My point is that there is much power in having a unified region, where everybody identifies themselves as Dayton – regardless of whether you are in Centerville, Oakwood, or even in a different county like Beavercreek. While our little fiefdoms are fighting amongst themselves (see Centerville vs Washington Township, Dayton vs Beavercreek, etc.) as we shuffle businesses and residents around the same region and call that economic development, regions like Atlanta are busy competing against Chicago, New York and other global cities. That is, when they’re not sucking businesses away from smaller and weaker cities like Dayton.
We may be a long way off from UniGov – the politics, current power structures and general attitude of the population make that nothing more than a pipe dream today. But we must be making transformational changes as a region that move us in that direction; ultimately we will have to start looking at ourselves as the Cincinnati/Dayton/Columbus region if we are to ever compete globally. Local leaders are beginning to discuss this more – if you want to participate in the discussion or hear more about the ideas currently being discussed, attend the Economic Development Forum – Montgomery County event being hosted by the Dayton Business Journal on Tuesday June 23, 2009 at Sinclair Community College (click the link for registration details). Or, join the on-going discussions on this topic right here on the DaytonMostMetro.com Forum, under Regionalism.
As if being listed as a top-ten dying city last year wasn’t enough of a wake-up call, Dayton’s largest and most famous home-grown company NCR has announced its relocation to Atlanta and sent shock waves throughout the region and up to the state capital. While various city, regional and state leaders spent their media time complaining about NCR’s unwillingness to return phone calls or come to the table, they might have inspired more confidence in our community with the following:
“We’d like to thank NCR for the 125 years they’ve been an integral part of the Dayton community. We appreciate the support you’ve shown to our local arts & culture groups and other non-profit organizations over the years, and we will always cherish the rich history that your company has had with Dayton going back to the days of John Patterson. NCR’s departure comes as no surprise to those of us who have been trying to work with the company over the past several months to no avail, and we regret their decision to unceremoniously abandon Dayton. But starting this very minute we will look forward to new opportunities with emerging and growing businesses and remain committed to all of those companies that actually wish to stay and grow in the Dayton Region. We will not dwell on what has been lost, but we will take advantage of this opportunity to make the bold changes necessary that will transform our city and region.”
“Dayton’s past represents the era of a few mega corporations that the community relied on in every facet of life, but Dayton’s future represents a brand new environment created to attract and nurture thousands of small and medium-sized businesses that are able to innovate, grow and retain top talent. This new reality will require a completely new way we operate government at the local, regional and state levels, and we are dedicated to making the hard decisions that will get us to where we need to be.”
Those are simply words, and words alone will not push our community forward – bold action is required. It seems as though NCR’s ‘sudden’ departure has struck quite a nerve at the highest levels in state government, and it is time to capitalize on the attention we now have from the state. Here are some things I would focus on if I was leading the charge:
Transform Tax Structure
We must completely overhaul our antiquated tax structure that may have made sense decades ago but is now the single largest force against our region’s ability to work together. The current system forces cities to rely on income tax, the counties to rely on sales tax and townships to rely on property tax. Added to a political climate which pits rural and suburban communities against urban cities, it is no wonder our region is so divided. Change must happen at the state level in order to implement a more equitable tax structure that encourages communities to work together rather than compete against one another.
Consolidate, Cut, Streamline, Simplify
We must consolidate similar organizations when at all possible, cut every duplicate administrative role possible and streamline our remaining organizations to become as efficient as possible – thereby freeing up more resources that can be invested in our communities and businesses. It is never easy to kill positions, but businesses do it every day in order to survive – we must do it if we are to survive as a region. In addition to cost savings, simplifying our system gives us a better opportunity to speak to businesses with one regional voice – an ability we’ve paid a significant price for lacking all of this time.
Change the Culture
We must finally transform ourselves away from a series of individual counties and communities competing with one another and into a single region that values the unique identities of our individual communities but that works closely together to ensure that every investment and development decision is made to maximize the benefit to the entire region. Only when the diversity of choices our region offers both residents and businesses alike is considered an asset rather than an “us vs them” argument will we become a unified region. And only when we become a unified region will we become attractive to outside business and investment. Culture change is not easy, but it can happen with true leadership and an effective message to the community at-large.
Strengthen the Core
Our entire region is seeing the effects of having a weak urban core, as we are seeing our largest businesses flee to regions with strong central cities. While others debate whether or not the city’s current leadership has effectively done its job for the city, those we elect in the future must be able to inspire confidence and speak not just for the city but for the entire region – even if they do not have any official regional power outside of the city’s borders. City government must do a much better job at attracting responsible residents and businesses to the core. And at the same time, the region at large must get over its irrational attitudes and biases against the city and understand once and for all that we’re all in this together.
Change is never easy, and the type of change that will be necessary to push the Dayton Region forward will be especially difficult. It will require true leaders who are unified with their mission and message to a region that is now extremely divided. Politics must be set aside, and individual egos and personal agendas that conflict with the greater good must be fully exposed and destroyed. The question is – do we have the will to make Dayton emerge a different yet stronger city and region? Or will we simply become paralyzed by the enormous challenges we face as Dayton sinks further into irrelevance and becomes a far-away exurb to Cincinnati? What do you think?
You’re probably reading that title and asking yourself what in the world this post could be about. That is unless you are a developer or downtown building owner – then you probably know exactly where this is headed…
We have a vacancy rate of over 30% in the downtown CBD, and a walk down many streets makes it feel like much more than that. Building after building looks like they’ve been abandoned for years or even decades. In some instances that is in fact the case, but why? It seems like many if not most of these buildings are in good enough shape that with a little money to clean them up they could be brought back to life by locating small businesses in them. But a “little money” turns out to be much more when it comes to bringing a building up to code, and that has in many cases been the difference between being able to bring a building back to life (and bring some jobs back to the core) and making it impossible to do anything and thus continuing our vacancy disaster.
Just as in any city, there are various zoning and building codes that must be met here in Dayton to ensure public safety and use that is proper for the surrounding community. Dayton recently updated its zoning codes as far as what types of uses are permitted in each district in the city, and from my layman’s point of view Dayton’s new zoning codes are actually very good. The downtown district is very flexible in that it allows residential and commercial, even in the same space, which is conducive to the whole urban work-live-play mantra. I also like the fact that surface parking lots are no longer permitted anywhere downtown, which shows forward-thinking on the part of the planners who wrote it. But then there are the individual building codes that must be met, and this is where many have run into trouble and simply given up.
Now, I will say that many building codes are completely reasonable and we should be glad they exist as they keep us safe and ensure that everybody including the handicapped have access. And many of these building codes such as ADA are dictated at the state or federal level. But have we made these codes so restrictive that we’ve destroyed any good chance of bringing our long-vacant downtown buildings back to life? Is there any room for some flexibility and compromises that still ensure proper safety AND make it cost-effective to redevelop and re-inhabit our downtown buildings?
Of all of the various things a building must have these days in order to be compliant, it appears that there are three that are usually the deal-breakers: restrooms, elevators and fire-suppression sprinkler systems. Restrooms are an obvious need for almost any building use so that one sounds a bit silly – until you realize that because of ADA standards, restrooms must have minimum sizes and dimensions in order to accommodate a wheelchair. Well that sounds fair enough for new construction, but I’ll bet most of our vacant downtown buildings and units that have existing working restrooms do not meet today’s standards. A large business that is filling 30,000 square feet or more usually doesn’t have a problem paying to have new restrooms installed, but those are also the businesses that find much of our downtown space obsolete for today’s business needs. Meanwhile there are probably many small businesses that would love to locate in some of the smaller spaces but are simply unable to foot the bill for new restrooms, while building owners are unable to do so as well for the small lease amount that a small business will likely be paying. How about elevators – seems like if a building never had an elevator (or instead had one of those very cool old freight elevators), then it should simply be exempt. Hell, we would probably help the obesity problem if we forced folks to take the stairs anyway (as I try to do as often as I can from my fourth-floor condo). But then it wouldn’t be accessible to the handicapped, and if restrooms are too expensive then just forget the elevator – it just ain’t gonna happen. Finally, the fire-suppression sprinkler system – no, they didn’t have those either when most of these vacant buildings were built, and like the others don’t come cheap.
Why is this such a problem in Dayton and not other larger urban cities? I’d guess it is how cheap leases go for here. In more successful cities, lease rates are much more expensive – over $100 per square foot in places like N.Y.C. and San Francisco. With that kind of rental income, building owners can afford to bring their buildings up to code. But here in Dayton we’re looking at lease rates of $5-$15 per square foot, and new restrooms, elevators and sprinkler systems aren’t likely to be much cheaper here than in N.Y. C. or San Francisco. Hmm, perhaps our “low cost of living” isn’t such a good thing after all – at least when it comes to vacant downtown buildings.
What is the solution? I suppose we could just say to hell with handicapped folks and just make downtown a handicapped-free zone, but that would ensure Dayton’s position on Forbes list of the Top Ten Asshole Cities. Perhaps we could be a bit more flexible when it comes to granting variances (and I really have no idea how flexible we currently are). But ideally we should strive for compliance AND making things cost effective for small businesses and building owners to be in compliance. So this is my proposal: What if the city simply passed a policy that says that for the next five years, a significant percentage (all?) of economic development money that might otherwise go toward tax incentives to larger businesses to locate in the city (ie corporate welfare) or toward tearing down a bunch of buildings in hopes that a developer will happen along and develop something there, went instead into dozens (or even hundreds) of much smaller projects that focused on bringing most of our downtown buildings back into compliance so that they were move-in ready for small businesses. We could set up a sort-of competition among building owners for access to this pool of money by which they would have to do the leg work of submitting plans, with an independent committee determining which ones get the green-light based on predetermined criteria to ensure we get the biggest bang for the buck.
This solution would bring vibrancy back to the core, not to mention businesses, jobs and the income tax that comes with them. Sure, many of these small businesses will be small potatoes, especially service-type businesses like restaurants and small retail. But these are what will make our downtown vibrant and alive again, and probably a much better way to attract those larger businesses than with huge tax incentives that only temporarily lure them here until they find a better tax incentive somewhere else.
This is a simple idea that obviously needs many details to be ironed out, but it is still an idea – and a fresh one at that. And these days, it is going to be new and fresh ideas that push our city forward, because the old line of thinking is simply not going to cut it anymore.
“What about the public schools?” This is a question I’ve heard time and time again, whether I’m casually talking to another person or giving a talk to a large group about why they should be aware of the interesting things happening in the urban core of Dayton, efforts to make our city vibrant again and why they should care. It is almost as if many people in this region refuse to give the city a second thought unless somehow the pubic school problems are miraculously solved (without their help, of course). But is this even a legitimate show-stopping question? I say no, it isn’t – and for many it is in fact completely irrelevant.
In terms of this discussion there are four main demographic groups that make up the total housing market for both rental and ownership: 20-something and older singles, married but childless couples, families with young or school-age children and empty nesters. When it comes to the public school question, here is the breakdown (note I have no stats backing my claims, only common sense):
20-Something/Older Singles with No Kids – this demographic is the sweet spot when it comes to attracting urban residents. While the younger of this group may not have as much disposable income as older generations, there are increasingly more and more singles in their late 20’s and 30’s who do have significant disposable income (and incidentally prefer urban living). More importantly, this single demographic spends a much higher percentage of their disposable income on the very amenities that make for a vibrant downtown – coffee shops, bars, restaurants, movies, non-traditional theater, etc. And most importantly – this group couldn’t care less about public schools because they have no kids!
Married with No Kids – same as the singles in terms of disposable income and where it is spent, but depending on future plans may be more concerned with schools. And if they have already been living urban and prefer that lifestyle then they’ll strongly consider all choices and alternatives (private schools, etc.) before giving in and moving to the burbs, especially if they are in higher income brackets.
Families with Children – Yes, this is the ONE demographic that has legitimate concerns about public schools, so give this demographic to the suburbs unless they are in the tiny minority that has already been living urban and figured out educational alternatives. And that is ok, because this demographic is also the least likely to be spending much in the local economy when it comes to urban amenities, as they are probably spending much more time at home with the kids. This isn’t to say that this demographic should be shunned or ignored, just that it should not be a priority until the urban core has successfully attracted all of the other demographics it can.
Empty Nesters – this is the other demographic sweet spot as they have no school-aged children, will not have school-aged children anytime in the future and thus do not give a hoot about how good or bad public schools are, at least in how it affects them personally. They are the most likely to have the money to purchase expensive downtown condos as they downsize from the now-unnecessary large suburban homes. They have the disposable income and may not be frequenting the bars but will be eating out quite a bit and subscribing to the various traditional theater seasons. In fact, the places they spend money at may be quite different than the young generation and thus the urban core will have a more diverse offering of amenities (not to mention the diversity of residents).
So of all of these groups, there is only one that is more than likely to be turned off from living in the city because of the public schools. Sure, you can say that the quality of public schools effects real estate values, but that is more a Realtor-created problem than based on urban reality. Of course, most Realtors are clueless when it comes to urban markets – at least in Dayton – so that is a perception that will be tough to crack here. Just like the crime perception, but that is for another post…
Btw – I belong to the Families with Children demographic and I live in Downtown Dayton. It will be another three years before I have to figure out the school thing, but I can tell you that my wife and I are not two parents you’ll see retreating to the suburbs because of public schools. And while we are in the minority, we are far from being alone.
I was a participant in this past Saturday’s updayton “Young Creative’s Summit” – a workshop & town hall event meant to engage the region’s younger generation (20-40) in coming up with ideas to make our region and city more attractive to young people. Dayton has been experiencing quite a brain drain over the years as young people flee to other cities in search of jobs and a better quality of life. Since I’m 38, I still qualify as a “young person”, albeit just barely (big sigh!)…
You can read more about the idea behind the summit and how it started by reading my previous post or going to the updayton website. I was in a workshop group called “Making a Difference” and unfortunately two other Dayton bloggers were in the same session – Matt from lifeindayton.com and David Esrati. I say unfortunately because it would have been nice to have been able to read some blogger insights into some of the other sessions, but instead I’m writing about the same thing they already have. Both lifeindayton.com and esrati.com have accurate reports of the day and I won’t waste your time duplicating them here other than to reiterate that the voting process was a total dud IMO and completely drained the energy out of the room (and I’m sure the organizers would agree).
It is always nice to see people engaged and wanting to get involved with making things better, and I applaud the summit organizers and participants for that. But the whole process of getting a group together to come up with ideas and then getting people to somehow implement those ideas on a grassroots level (usually with little or no money) is getting worn out in this town. It is ironic that the updayton group was itself spawned from the Creative Region Initiative (yet another effort I was involved with) where people got together to come up with ideas that they would then try to implement over the next year.
I really thought the idea with the summit was to lobby the leadership in this region with the things young people find important so that those leaders might then champion some projects that address those needs. I knew there was going to be some kind of sign-up for people to get involved, but other than having a hand full of city leaders on hand I did not see how they fit into it other than to listen. And notice I said city leaders because there was not a single suburban or regional leader at the summit – something that was noticed by many people I’ve talked to since. As much as our city leaders are criticized these days I give them credit for being there while none of their regional peers decided it was worth their effort.
Grassroots projects can be valuable and effective, but I just don’t think the best way to develop them is by dot-sticker-committees. They need champions who are passionate, knowledgble and dedicated to an idea who organize others who share that passion, not committees made up of total strangers voting on spontaneous ideas after minimal discussion. What would be nice to see is a community leader or two (government, political, organization or business) actually act as a champion for some of the many ideas that have been generated by the community and help identify the resources to actually make them happen. Because ideas without champions or resources are just that – ideas. We have plenty of ideas in this town, but what we are missing is the leadership to make these ideas come to life. Summit organizers say that this is only the beginning, so I challenge those leaders that were at the summit – what initiatives that matter to young people are YOU planning on being champions for?
(photos by Andy Snow)
Here are links to posts from other Dayton bloggers – most of whom were at the summit:
A week from Saturday on April 18, the updayton group born from last year’s DaytonCREATE initiative will be holding their 2009 Young Creatives Summit – a chance for the Dayton Region’s 20 & 30-somethings to voice their ideas and opinions about this place in which they live. You can be sure that city and regional leaders will be on hand as their absence would certainly be noticed by this young demographic that uses today’s social networking tools to spread their news and messages to the masses at lightening speed. And I’m very sure that the summit participants won’t be interested in just talking about things – they will expect action. Because unlike previous generations, this young generation is extremely mobile and will not stay in a city or region that does not provide what they’re looking for. It isn’t just jobs, because today’s young generation is more likely to choose a city they want to live in for its lifestyle, social and entertainment offerings… and THEN they find a job.
Registration for the summit is $15 ($5 for students) – and the many discounts and special offers you will get at local businesses will more than pay for that amount, especially if you take the 20% offer at several Oregon District restaurants that evening. And yes, what summit would be complete without a pub crawl afterward – yes, they have that too! Honestly, this is worth the price just for the discounts alone even if you get nothing else from it.
The summit will include multiple break-out sessions where participants will discuss ideas for making Dayton more attractive for young people. The topics have been determined by the surveys the group has been collecting all year and the Perspectives & Pints events held over the past few months:
Creative for hire: Where are the jobs that I can thrive in? In our recent survey of young creatives, you told us job opportunities are the most important factor in choosing a place to live. Unfortunately, this is also where the Dayton region performed worst. Share your experience in the region’s job market, how easy it is to find opportunities to thrive and grow, and your ideas about what leaders can do to foster your career.
Entrepreneurs wanted: What do YOU need to strike it out on your own? Dayton is full of creativity. Creatives are innovators, highly value their individuality and are often more willing to take risks. Risks like starting a business. Have you ever thought about starting one? Maybe you have, but like many young creatives you are not sure where to start. Tell us what the region can do to make the process easier for you so we can live up to the Dayton region’s legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship.
The Dayton scene: Creating an active nightlife with a strong cultural focus. At our February Perspectives & Pints you told us you need variety when you go out – not just in the places you go (concerts, art galleries, theatres, lecture halls, cafes, restaurants, bars, clubs), but also in the people you see. We also heard that Dayton’s nightlife is segregated into pockets, not enough is happening, and when things are happening — you have trouble finding out about them. Share with us your ideas of what we can do to make the region’s nightlife more varied and vibrant for young creatives.
A sense of community: Healthy, happening & affordable neighborhoods. At our Perspectives & Pints last December young creatives told us that they want to live near a wide array of amenities and vibrant community spaces. We also heard that while many young creatives are interested in living in our urban areas, housing there is unaffordable and the region’s gateways and pathways into downtown are lined with vacant, unwelcoming buildings. You’ve told us what is frustrating you – now we need your creative ideas on how we can work with community leaders to fix it. Making a difference:
Getting involved with our community: A new wave of volunteerism, civic pride, and social consciousness is sweeping the country. Would you like to become involved locally, but don’t know where to start? Maybe you’re already engaged, but frustrated about your opportunities to influence change. Dayton is facing challenging times that call for new ideas and action. Help to strengthen the voice and movement of young creatives in our region by participating in community and civic organizations that will set the course for the future of the region.
Family-friendly: What are you looking for in a school system? In our survey of young creatives, over 75% of respondents said quality schools are very important when choosing a place to live. When rating the Miami Valley for the same factor, over 65% said the region’s school systems are average or below. Help us understand where the region’s schools are falling short, and let’s lead the region to devise solutions for this critical issue.
If you’re young (or young at heart) and you want to have a voice in shaping the future of Dayton and the region, do plan to attend. The larger the crowd, the more likely local leaders and politicians will listen and act. And yes, I will be there to report on what happens. See y’all there!