(the following was written by Gary Leitzell – Mayor, City of Dayton)
The June 16, 2010 article ‘Dayton metro area gets 9th worst ranking in U.S.’ does nothing except give citizens yet another out-of-context, “the sky is falling” dose of misinformation about our region’s economic health.
First, the Dayton region’s demographics are unfairly represented by the Brookings Institute. The Dayton Region trade area (Metropolitan Statistical Area) lists the population as 839,000 – focusing only on the four counties Jennifer Bradley mentions in the report. However, the total trade area population for the Dayton Region is 1.2 million, encompassing all or portions of seven counties.
When all statistics from these counties are added together, the region becomes much stronger statistically. Between 2000 and the end of 2008, both the City of Dayton and Montgomery County lost population, yet the Dayton Region as a whole gained 1.8% in population. The constant news reporting about the exiting of Mead, General Motors and National Cash Register would lead citizens to conclude that we have lost population in the double digits. Not the case. Additionally, hundreds of small companies have opened or relocated into the Dayton Region, even as those larger, newsworthy companies moved out.
Despite the economic pain resulting from the loss of GM and NCR, our region is making up for it with large, successful corporations like Wright-Patterson AFB, UDRI, Premier Health Partners, Kettering Health Network, Care Source, and others, along with the many small and medium-sized businesses that are continually forming in support of these large corporations and institutions. The Austin Road interchange development should turn the population numbers positive for Montgomery County in three to four years, and the Dayton and Cincinnati regions are currently in the process of merging as we speak. All of this bodes well for the Dayton Region.
Mrs. Bradley compares Dayton to Rochester and Buffalo, NY, Madison, WI, and Des Moines, Iowa, claiming they fared well with no big corporations. However, 39% of the Top 300 Cities in the US are successful because of significant amenities such as being located near an ocean or lake, in a warm climate, near mountains, or being a capital city. As any economist can tell you, capital cities are in a class by themselves and cannot be compared to other municipalities. Madison and Des Moines are both capital cities located next to large lakes, while Rochester is on Lake Ontario and Buffalo on Lake Erie. Not only can these four cities not be compared to Dayton, but taking a three-month window and predicting Dayton’s untimely demise makes it obvious that the Brookings Institute does not have an in-depth understanding of our region’s true health.
Shame on the DDN for not investigating the Brookings Institute report more thoroughly. Dayton did not deserve this headline.
Mayor, City of Dayton