The City of Dayton is on the right path. We have accomplished much since 2013 when I first shared my Roadmap with the community. I promised that we would become a City of Learners, our economy would continue to grow, we would better leverage our community resources, and create vibrant and connected neighborhoods for generations to come. As I reflect on the progress we have made during my first year in office, it is clear that we have created momentum in all four areas.
As many of you know, our City of Learners initiative has become a rallying cry in our community. During the twelve listening sessions held this summer, it was clear that there is a strong correlation between having a robust education system and economic mobility. The 2015 City of Learners report combines the voice of the community with next steps based on best practice models. I am proud of the work that the community put forth on this effort, and I am committed to creating measurable goals that will move all of us towards academic excellence and economic strength.
Speaking of economic strength, the Dayton economy continues to grow in jobs and opportunities. In 2014 we saw unemployment drop to a historic low of 5.7 percent; a level not seen in more than a quarter century. Locally we have seen new technologies that are changing the environment for manufactures and their workforce. In 2015, manufacturing will continue to be a key focus for Dayton. The national Makers Movement provides an opportunity to bring well-paying jobs back into our community. To this end, we partnered with the City of Cincinnati, the Dayton Development Coalition, and REDI Cincinnati to create a 27 county manufacturing region based on supply chain strengths. Nationally Dayton was one of 12 recipients designated by the Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership. This spotlight will help to encourage business investments and attract more federal funding to our city.
Comparatively, our neighborhoods are being reimagined. Supported by a broad base of residents and city investments, we transferred over 225 vacant properties to citizens who want to make a difference in their neighborhood. We have also aggressively pursued state and federal funds to demolish blighted buildings that cannot be redeveloped. Over the past two years we completed over $6.6 million of demolition resulting in 540 structures being removed. We have also made strong commitments to improve city services and infrastructure by investing over $15 million in projects this year.
Finally, Dayton is a community that is committed to being open, vibrant and welcoming. We will continue to focus on programs like Bike Share, which provides accessibility and connectivity to the urban core and recreation. We will strive for nondiscrimination policies that create measurable community impacts like the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. And we will, of course, continue to be a national leader in immigrant inclusion through the Welcome Dayton program.
While the accomplishments outlined in this document – and many others –give us great pride, we still are at the beginning of this journey. Our vision of a vibrant, thriving city that provides opportunities for all will require additional time and effort. As your Mayor, I invite you to review all of the progress we have made so far on this journey. I look forward to serving you, as we continue on this road together.