Dayton’s legacy of innovation and entrepreneurship that bolstered the city’s status in the industrial age is its boon once again in modern times. Leading industries for job growth in the region, which includes about 800,000 metro residents, include education, health care and military-related operations. (Colloquially referred to as the “Eds, Meds and Feds.”)
– Val Hunt Beerbower
Dayton is home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, the largest single-site employer in the state. It also boasts the national headquarters for CareSource, a managed health care plan provider, as well as dozens of highly ranked hospitals and health care facilities. Another huge workforce driver includes shipping and fulfillment, and logistics industries, according to data provided by the Dayton Development Coalition, the regional economic development agency. National brands like Chewy, Procter and Gamble, and Crocs have opened distribution centers in Dayton, taking advantage of the city’s position at the intersection of Interstates 70 and 75, and Dayton International Airport.
With the growing segments of manufacturing and distribution, it’s no wonder industrial space has been Dayton’s hottest commercial real estate market trend. This was one area where the impact of COVID-19 was actually positive. Demands for shipped consumer goods and advanced manufacturing have made the Gem City an attractive location for brands looking to scale up and get products to customers quickly.
Entrepreneurship is pushing growth in the region’s urban core. Despite the pandemic’s slow-down, downtown Dayton has seen $1.5 billion in public and private investments completed since 2010, with another $420 million in the pipeline. For Daytonians, perhaps the development project closest to their hearts is the pending completion of the Dayton Arcade’s renovation. This $90 million mixed-use project includes retail, restaurant, residential and office components. Some tenants have already moved in, including the University of Dayton, The Entrepreneur’s Center and the Miami Valley Small Business Development Center. This newly formed trio, known as The Hub powered by PNC Bank, represents a comprehensive launch pad of services for small businesses looking to get their start. UD students are slated to begin classes fall 2021.
Workforce development begins in Dayton’s classrooms. Local school districts partner with the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce and other nonprofits to address gaps between local jobs and educational opportunities. One such new undertaking seeks to correct the repercussions of racism within the school system. Montgomery County Educational Service Center and Learn to Earn created the Equity Fellows Program for school administrators and teachers committed to embedding culturally responsive practices in their schools.