Dayton is ROARING Back!

2017 State of the City Address

Good Morning.

Members of the City Commission, City Manager Dickstein, distinguished guests, members of the city staff, friends and neighbors.

The Dayton Development Coalition held its annual meeting a couple of weeks ago with more than 800 people crowded into the Schuster Center.  At that meeting I was privileged to serve as a member of a speakers’ panel discussing regional development efforts and the status of the Dayton-area economy.

The panel’s moderator was local filmmaker Steven Bognar, whose film “The Last Truck” earned an Academy Award nomination.  “The Last Truck” tells the heartbreaking story of how the closing of the General Motors Assembly Plant in Moraine affected the workers and their families and the shattering impact it had on our community.

Imagine my delight when Steven Bognar opened his remarks in front of that standing-room-only crowd in the Schuster Center by declaring, “Dayton is roaring back.”

What a difference a few short years can make!

Four years ago, we had leaders in the community saying publicly that “Dayton is a dying city.”

And, they were right to be concerned — Dayton had seen some dark days even before the Great Recession swept across our nation leaving communities like ours battered and distressed.

Many of our friends and family members had lost their jobs.  Many more were fearful that they could lose their jobs.

We had a record number of foreclosures.  We saw both residential and commercial property values drop dramatically.

Our neighborhoods were scarred by vacant and abandoned homes.  Our business districts were lined with empty storefronts and deserted commercial buildings.

We did not have the resources we needed to tend to our streets and parks.

And, several long-time community anchors and major employers had packed up and left town.

Four years ago, Dayton stood in the shadows of a long period of decline.

But, make no mistake about it, Dayton is roaring back!

On just about every front we see positive signs of growth and renewal.

  • Forty-three new businesses opened in downtown Dayton in the past year, bringing activity and new jobs to our city. This includes new restaurants like Table 33 and Old Scratch Pizza; new retail and service businesses like Luna Gifts & Botanicals and KJ Naturals; and, new professional offices like Keller Williams Home Town Realty and the law firm of Bricker & Eckler.
  • More than $250 million is being invested in four major capital projects that are nearing completion. The construction of a new patient care tower at Dayton Children’s Hospital, the renovation of the Marriott Hotel at the University of Dayton, the expansion and renovation of Sinclair’s Health Sciences Center, and the expansion of the Dayton Metro Main Library located downtown are all on track to be finished in 2017.
  • Major infrastructure improvements also are underway including the replacement of the Webster Street Bridge over the Mad River and the Helena Street Bridge over the Great Miami River. Both will be completed by the end of the year.
  • CareSource, one of our great community partners, continues to expand its footprint in Dayton, renovating and moving into space in the Kettering Tower. As one of our most important downtown anchors, CareSource also will begin construction on a six-story office building later this year.  That new building will be constructed on the site of the former Patterson Co-Op High School and will house about 800 employees.  Additionally, CareSource announced just this past week that it plans to purchase the Ballpark Village building across from Fifth Third Field and will occupy additional space there as well.
  • Our work to create a framework to guide development efforts in important West Dayton neighborhoods got a tremendous boost last summer when HUD announced our community would receive a Choice Neighborhoods grant. This $1.5 million grant will be used to develop a blueprint to remake the DeSoto Bass and Hilltop Homes housing projects and the surrounding neighborhood into a mixed-income area.  This will create more economic opportunities for nearby residents and our citizens.
  • The housing market in and around downtown is hot, maybe the hottest it’s ever been. With a total occupancy rate of 97%, developers like Jason Woodard are working overtime to meet the demand.  There are more than 1,300 market rate housing units in downtown today and another 630 units are expected to be available in the near future.

One thing that is important to recognize is that much of this housing upswing is being driven by millennials and young professionals.  As of last December, more than half of the homebuyers in Dayton during the previous ten-month period were under the age of 35.  According to an analysis by Realtor.com, that’s the highest share of the market by that age group in the nation.

The surge we are witnessing is being fed by people like Franklin Gehres and Carla Maragano, two 31- year-old attorneys who purchased a home in the St. Anne’s Hill neighborhood at the end of last summer.  Another example is Mohamed Al-Hamdani and his wife Carin, who are looking to close on their purchase of a home in the Wright Dunbar neighborhood.  They hope to move there with their two young boys within the next month.

But, another demographic that is driving the housing market is empty-nesters and those looking to downsize — people like Mike and Frieda Brigner, who recently sold their home in Dayton’s DeWeese neighborhood to move downtown into First Place Apartments.  Now they’re within walking distance for work and downtown amenities.  As developer Charles Simms told the Dayton Business Journal, “It’s the live, work, play sentiment” that really fuels our market.

  • And, speaking of amenities — isn’t the completion of Chaminade Julienne’s new Roger Glass Stadium a wonderful addition to the city’s landscape? CJ’s new complex, along with the expected opening of the Five Rivers Metropark’s River Run project and the soon-to-be-built Levitt Pavilion outdoor music venue promises to bring exciting new vibrancy to our downtown.

With all of these signs of growth and renewal, our city continues to face a number of serious challenges.  Issues such as neighborhood blight, drug addiction, and workforce development require serious focus and attention.

For a number of years, we have steadily and strategically been removing vacant and abandoned structures in our neighborhoods.  In fact, about 40% of these eyesores have been demolished.  We expect to remove several hundred more structures in 2017.

The national opiate crisis has hit our community hard, with devastating effects on families and our neighborhoods.  Every day Dayton EMS and police officers are saving lives through the use of Narcan.  But, much more needs to be done.  During the coming year we must work with other community partners including law enforcement and social service agencies to develop comprehensive strategies to address this epidemic.

Our Investing in Manufacturing Community Partnership was renewed in 2016 allowing us to support and expand manufacturing in a 27-county area.  More than 5,500 new manufacturing jobs have been generated since the creation of this partnership.  Promoting regional manufacturing jobs and workforce development is important for our region’s continued economic growth.

In last year’s State of the City address I spoke of the need for courage and determination to meet the challenges that confront our city.  I asked if we were prepared to act boldly to address these challenges.

Last November, the people of this city went to the polls and answered that question with a resounding “YES!”

I have said it before:  The people of Dayton have a long history of being willing and able to rise to the occasion and confront adversity head on.  In placing Issue 9 on the ballot last November, Commissioners Williams, Joseph, Mims, Shaw and I — along with City Manager Dickstein and our team here at City Hall — put before the people of Dayton a bold initiative to push our city forward.

We are so grateful for the widespread support we received for this initiative.  Once again, the people of this city have answered the call for sacrifice and courageous action.

The passage of Issue 9 places Dayton on solid financial footing for many years to come.  It allows us to address serious issues affecting the quality of life in all of our neighborhoods.

We will be able to improve the appearance of our neighborhoods.  We will be better able to address the maintenance of vacant and abandoned properties with more frequent mowing.  We will enhance the appearance of our parks and thoroughfares, mowing our 62 parks monthly and our 72 boulevards weekly.

We will be able to maintain and enhance our public safety service levels, adding twenty new police officers to our force over the next eight years.

And, we will be able to increase residential street re-surfacing four-fold, with all roads in good condition at the end of 8 years.

Most important — the passage of Issue 9 allows us to provide universal access to high-quality, accountable preschool for Dayton’s 1,900 four-year-olds.

When I was sworn in as Mayor three years ago, I declared that Dayton must become a “City of Learners” — a city that invests in the education of its children — a city where all its children have the chance to succeed.

Providing universal access to preschool is a giant step in our quest to be a City of Learners.  It is a giant step in our hope of changing the world for the children of Dayton.

The members of our Preschool Promise Board are fully engaged and hard at work.  Under the leadership of board chair Debbie Feldman, CEO of Dayton Children’s Hospital, and Robyn Lightcap, Director of ReadySetSoar, the board is developing policies to direct their work and will soon launch a comprehensive education campaign.

Enrollment for the start of the 2017-18 school year is set to begin in April but, of course, enrolling in preschool is NOT enough.  Our Preschool Promise Board is committed to providing access to high-quality preschool — HIGH-QUALITY PRESCHOOL.

The Board is working with various partners and is prepared to assist and coach preschool providers who are willing to become “high-quality.”  This is the only way we can reach the objective that every 4-year-old in our city comes to kindergarten ready to learn.

Each of the Issue 9 program goals represents a meaningful investment in our city’s future.  The people of Dayton have placed a great deal of trust and confidence in the leadership at City Hall, and we will honor and respect that trust.  We are committed to protecting your investment.

Under the “Your Dollars, Your Neighborhood, ALL Dayton!” brand, we will monitor and track our performance.  The City Manager will prepare and maintain a separate Issue 9 Supplemental Budget to provide total accountability and transparency.  And, the Commission will receive Quarterly Updates on the city’s activity and progress.  Meeting our Issue 9 goals is a major priority for me and my colleagues on the City Commission.  We will not fail.

If you have seen Steven Bognar’s documentary “The Last Truck” you know how moving it is to hear former workers at the Moraine Assembly Plant talk about the devastation of losing their jobs.  I can relate to their pain.

My dad worked at a GM plant in Indiana that sent trucks to Moraine for final assembly.  When the Moraine Plant shut down, my dad’s job was cut and he was forced to take an early retirement.

Losing those jobs and seeing that plant shut down was painful.  It was certainly a low point for the entire Dayton region.  Having lived through that pain, however, should make us appreciate the renewal and signs of growth we are witnessing now even more.

The chair of the Dayton Development Coalition, Anne Eiting Klamar, told the audience at the Coalition’s recent meeting that “It’s an exciting time to be in Dayton, Ohio.”  I couldn’t agree more.

It’s an exciting opportunity we have been given to be in a position to focus on issues that matter.  It’s an exciting opportunity we have been given to be able to get things done.  It’s an exciting opportunity we have been given to make a real difference in the lives of people and families.

It’s exciting, because Dayton is roaring back!

Thank you!

Welcoming Immigrants for a Stronger Dayton

The last few days have created a great deal of confusion around the country. For many in the Dayton community, the future feels uncertain. I hear you. We have long believed that the road to a prosperous and safe community lies in embracing all of those who choose to live here. It is this American ideal that has led to the ongoing success of Dayton and other communities like us.

The Welcome Dayton vision began in 2005. Over time, it has evolved into the program that the community knows today. During my 11 years with the City Commission, I have seen the tremendous impact this policy has had on the immigrant and refugee population. With a broad coalition of partners, from business leaders like the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce, to higher education, and countless public and private organizations, this community stood together and declared that every Dayton resident is valuable.  This declaration has been the hallmark of Welcome Dayton’s success.

Over the past decade, I have watched as a refugee, fleeing months in a Iraqi camp, become a leader in this community. I have listened as an immigrant from Saudi Arabia outlined the accomplishments of an impressive tech company. And I have seen the proud faces of residents as they have become citizens of this Country. These diverse perspectives make us stronger and more globalized.

When I took the oath of office, I swore to protect the welfare of every resident. Those whose families have been here a hundred years, and those who arrived just this week. It is the part of being Mayor that I hold most dear.

Thank You

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Last night was a great night for Dayton children, families, police officers, firefighters, public works employees, neighborhoods and citizens.  Dayton voters approved Issue 9, an investment in our neighborhoods, infrastructure and future.

Dayton families will now be able to send their children to an affordable, high quality pre-school.  We are the first city in the Midwest to make this promise our children.  It’s an investment that will prepare our future workforce and pay dividends in the years and decades ahead.

I have said that we cannot cut our way to success and thanks to Issue 9 we will instead boost services.  We will be able to hire more police officers and maintain fire protection.  Residential streets will be paved and every residential street will be brought into good condition in the next 8 years.  Vacant lots and boulevards will be mowed at least once a month.

I want to thank Dayton voters for having the courage and the trust to invest in our future.

Now the real work begins to boost services and implement high quality pre-school.  I look forward to it.

Dayton Scores a 100!

I am proud and excited to announce that Dayton has received a top score of 100 on the 2016 Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index! Dayton is one of just 3 cities in Ohio and 60 nationwide to earn a perfect score. Dayton is also just one of 37 cities to be named an All-Star City, representing a high score in a state lacking supportive state-level laws.

The Municipal Equality Index is based upon a set of 44 criteria that fall into five broad categories: non-discrimination laws, municipal employment policies, inclusiveness of city services, law enforcement and municipal leadership.

I am so proud of what this award represents. Dayton is truly moving forward as an open, progressive and welcoming place.

You can read the details here.

Clinton Has a Better Plan for Cities

This week I am joining over a dozen mayors from across the state on a bus tour of Ohio to campaign for Hillary Clinton. As mayors, we are elected to represent our communities, and to make decisions that are best for the future of our cities.

I joined this bus tour because I believe that there will be no greater impact to the sustained positive future of our communities, our state and our country than electing Hillary Clinton as our next president — and I want to spread the word.

Hillary Clinton will be a strong partner for Ohio cities and Dayton’s working families. Hillary has a plan to invest in the infrastructure cities like Dayton desperately need, to fix our crumbling roads and bridges. I was so proud to guarantee paid family leave for Dayton employees, and now Hillary has a plan to do the same for all working families in America. Through my work on the City of Learners project, I have learned the importance of early childhood education. Hillary will give every child the opportunity to attend a quality pre-school and double our investment in Head Start programs. Small businesses are crucial to Dayton’s recovery, and Hillary will make access to financing easier for small businesses so that they may grow.

On the other hand, Donald Trump has consistently shown that he cares about one thing: Donald Trump. He wants to give trillions in tax cuts to millionaires just like him and his friends while we struggle to maintain our infrastructure. In fact, Donald Trump’s plan could cost Ohio in excess of 100,000 jobs. He suggested women who face sexual harassment in the workplace should change careers. Is that the agenda of a leader who is looking out for cities like Dayton?

The contrast could not be starker in this election. The choice is between someone who has fought for working families versus a man who continues to just look out for himself. We need a leader who can help build the future of cities like Dayton, and that person, I believe, is Hillary Clinton.

Ohioans have a track record of embracing strong leaders — especially women — and this year, with our vote, we have the opportunity to continue that trend.

NAN WHALEY, DAYTON. Whaley is mayor of the city of Dayton. 

This Letter to the Editor appeared in the Dayton Daily News on September 21, 2016. http://www.mydaytondailynews.com/news/news/opinion/whaley-joins-clinton-bus-tour/nsbnx/

Dayton Needs Your Help!

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This fall we have a great opportunity to invest in the future of the City of Dayton.  We can guarantee high quality pre-school for every four-year-old in the City of Dayton, while also investing in our roads, infrastructure, police and emergency services.  The Dayton City Commission has voted to place a one quarter of one percent earned income tax increase on the November ballot to fund pre-school for all Dayton four year olds, street paving, park improvements and police services.

Dayton has not had an income tax increase in over 30 years, the State of Ohio has cut $40 million from Dayton’s budget since 2011 and the city has eliminated almost 40% of its workforce.  The time has come to invest in an opportunity for all Daytonians.

As you know, there is a lot of non-sense, attack ads and clutter flowing through Ohio politics.  That is why we need volunteers to knock on doors and make phone calls to in support of the income tax proposal.  Volunteers having one on one conversations with citizens will pass this issue.

I am asking you to attend our campaign launch on Saturday, September 10th, 10 AM at our headquarters, 313 South Jefferson Street in Dayton.  

I also need you to sign up to volunteer at www.opportunityforalldayton.com.  We need to fill phone banking shifts Monday through Thursday from 5-9 PM, Saturday from 10-2 and Sunday from 12-2 PM.  We need canvassers Monday through Thursday, 5-7 PM, Saturdays at 10-2 and Sundays at 12-4.

I hope you can help us with this effort in some capacity.  You may also click here to donate to the campaign.  Please like our facebook page, Neighborhoods for Dayton’s Future to stay up to date with the campaign.  If you have questions, or wish to sign up for a volunteer shift, please email volunteer@opportunityforalldayton.com.

Dayton needs to seize this opportunity to invest in our future and you can make the difference.

 

An Opportunity for ALL Dayton!

Today, we have a great opportunity to invest in the future of the City of Dayton.  We have the chance to guarantee high quality pre-school for every four-year old in the City of Dayton, while also investing in our roads, infrastructure, police and emergency services.  We are proposing a one quarter of one percent earned income tax increase to fund pre-school for all Dayton four year olds, street paving and police services.

We know that high quality pre-school is a must to prepare children for kindergarten and put them on a track to succeed later in life.  Unfortunately, four out five Dayton children come to kindergarten woefully behind.  This produces lower test scores, graduation rates, college attendance and a poorer workforce.  Investing in Dayton children will produce a better workforce that pays dividends for many years to come.

Dayton’s streets and infrastructure are falling behind due to state budget cuts.  The State of Ohio has taken about $10 million per year away from Dayton’s budget, forcing us to defer paving and maintenance.  This proposal will allow us to invest again in our infrastructure and pave more residential streets, helping to attract jobs and investment.  It will also help us keep our neighborhood lots and parks well-mowed and maintained and complete the work of updating our parks and playgrounds.

Excellent police and emergency services are vital to a city’s future success.  Due to state cuts, our budget is at the same level as it was in 1998!  Our dedicated police officers and emergency personnel are doing a great job, but we will struggle to maintain current service levels without additional funding.

The proposal would cost someone earning $35,000 per year $1.60 per week and applies to everyone who works in Dayton, including those living outside the city.  Social security, pension and retirement income is not taxed.  Dayton’s income tax rate has not increased in 32 years.  This proposal is fair, accountable and necessary.

I hope you will join me in supporting this effort to secure a better future and create opportunity for all of Dayton.

Great News for Dayton

I am excited to share some great news we have received in Dayton this month.

Spectrum Brand Products will invest $33 million in a distribution facility at the Dayton Airport, creating over 300 new, quality jobs.  This is the first non-aviation business we have brought to the airport.  Being at the intersection of I-70 and I-75, we expect to draw even more business here in the future.

I was also thrilled to learn that the Dayton Arcade has won $20 million in tax credits from the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.  This historic building has sat empty for more than 25 years, but we now have a great opportunity to create another asset downtown.  The first phase will create affordable and market rate housing units.  The Arcade competed for funding against many other worthy projects around Ohio and not only receives $10 million for the first phase, but receives an additional $10 million for the second phase of the project!

It is important that we keep Dayton moving forward with projects like these.  Please consider supporting me with a donation of $10, $25, $50 or any amount here. There is an important fundraising deadline approaching June 30th.

Thanks for your ongoing support!

Help Us Kickoff Summer Reading!

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I launched the City of Learners initiative to emphasize high quality education and continued learning.  Too many young people will not have the opportunity to keep learning while they are on summer break.  Many will return to school next fall having actually lost academic ground over the summer.

Today is Montgomery County’s Summer Reading Kickoff Day.  Help us drive home the importance of learning when school is not in session!  We want to encourage students to engage in at least 15 minutes of reading each day.  Here is how:

— Talk up the importance of reading at your workplace, your house of worship, your neighborhood and with your children.  Encourage and influence all young people to read at least fifteen minutes per day – and to start now!

— Display one of our yard signs.  Contact hundley@readysetsoar.org for a yard sign.

— Share or pass out our fliers.

— Send all call text messages to families encouraging their children to read throughout the summer.  Reinforce this message in your organization’s newsletter.

— Organize a celebration for students who participate in Dayton Metro Library’s Summer Reading Program.

— Finally, please consider posting Summer Reading messages on your outdoor signage.  Here are some great summer reading quotes.

Thank you for helping our children continue to read and keep learning during the summer- for making Dayton a City of Learners!

 

Help Us Reach Our Goal for Read On!

We are very close to reaching our goal for the Read On! book drive.  Faith, business and community groups have been collecting books over the past three months.  Our goal is to give ten books to every Pre-K through third grade child in Dayton. So far, we have achieved 75% of our goal of 85,000 books.

We want to distribute the books in May so children have something to read during the summer.  Each child will receive ten books for ten weeks of summer vacation.  Students who do not read during summer break lose two months of reading achievement, on average.  And it is estimated that 60% of urban households have no books.

Here is how you can help:

—  Donate at ReadONBookDrive.org, where $30 purchases 10 books.

—  Drop off books at any Dayton Metro Library or Project Read

—  Consider having your group or organization sponsor a class.

For more information, contact Allie Hundley (937) 236-9965.  Thanks for helping Dayton students beat the summer slide.

 

Friends of Nan Whaley, Mark Owens, Treasurer, 443 E. 6th Street, Dayton, OH 45402