Dayton Development Coalition preaches to the choir: Dayton Region Rally

The Dayton Development Coalition held a “Dayton Region Rally” today- and everybody who is somebody and still wears a suit to a job paying six figures or more was there. Not exactly the people who make up the “Dayton Region” where unemployment is still around 12% (unless you are a minority where it’s way higher).

I’m not going to report the guest list, but, I was barely through the door when I had seen more of the “powers that be” than I saw during my election campaign. Yep, they were all ready to hear what the messiahs of good fortune (at least for their friendly congressman’s wife with her no-bid contract) had to say. The “political leadership” wasn’t on stage- this was the business community beating the drum, with a good dose of the base and higher ed thrown in. Noticeably absent were the hospitals from the standard of Feds, Meds and Eds routine that has become the rally cry.

The 1,000 or so people in attendance were treated to one scripted speech after another. Delivered like lectures to schoolchildren. Not sure where DDC head Jim Leftwich got the idea he should be MC- but, I kept looking at his deadpan delivery and thinking Jack Parr had risen from the grave (and that was from before my time).

It was an expensive production. Just the AV alone had to run $15 to $20K with three big screens and at least three cameras- plus the channel 7 interviews from the concourse (why?) thrown in. Figure the t-shirts and all the staging and coordination- handled by Real Art (of Get Midwest fame) and you have another $15 to $20K thrown in. All this for an event that was done during regular business hours so only those who can make their own schedules could attend.

There were exactly three people who made presentations that moved the cause forward: Bruce Langos, COO of Teradata, who got the biggest rise out of the audience when he talked about their successful divorce from NCR and their enviable cash position and market strength. We need to hear more from both Bruce and Teradata to put this city back on track. And, in my mind, the real icing on the split from NCR would be for Terradata to move back to Dayton- into NCR HQ and show Bill Nuti how it’s done.

Charlie Shoemaker, executive director of Five Rivers Metroparks, brought a whole parade of people in “outdoor attire” to reinforce his position as the outdoor recreation chief of the region. The only thing I wonder about is giving away $5 coupons to use at the 2nd Street Market to people who don’t need $5 coupons- is that really why you just asked the taxpayers for a levy? To give away some of that money to people who can afford to take a few hours off to listen to the cheerleaders?

The final speaker, was Kellen Winslow Sr. – the Athletic Director for Central State- who did a great job of representing Central State and was using the new “Change is Central” slogan. He didn’t need a script to know that people were stiff (and bored) and got everybody who was still in attendance up- and out of their seats, at least to make sure no one was asleep. If I were looking for someone to coordinate a regional sports program, I’d be sitting in his office asap.

The finale of celebrity painter Michael Israel, was too little too late. People were even trying to head guests off at the top of the concourse, trying to keep people in. I’m not going to guess how much it was to bring him in, but the real question was what was he adding to our message of Dayton? That we have to import talent?

The real question was what was the point? What was the call to action? Could you do something with $7oK+(low ball estimate of how much this cost) that would actually have an impact? The back of the program wants you to go take a two question survey.

The questions:

  1. What declaration of possibility can you make that has the power to transform the community and inspire you?
  2. What are you prepared to do to make this possibility a reality?

I don’t make declarations of possibilities- whatever that means. You want to inspire people to transform the community- there is an answer- and it doesn’t involve committees, group think, rallies or surveys- it involves leadership.

Give a leader a mission, hold them accountable, measure progress and evaluate their progress- and guess what?- we may actually have some.

If the people in the room would only learn to march together, instead of to the beat of a hundred drummers, we may actually get the choir to sing together. The first step is to get serious about regionalism- and start referring to us as Dayton- without the word “region.”

Yep, I said it. Time to own your heart Dayton, and it may start beating again.

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