“Economic Development” is not the panacea

If you had a restaurant- would you focus on getting customers before you had a menu? Would you have customers come in before you had a trained staff? Would you take their money before you served a meal?

So why is a City focusing on “Economic development” when we can’t get the basics straight?

Let’s take trash collection and street cleaning as examples: because trash blowing around the ‘hood makes the place look trashy.

When we drive to Centerville, or Oakwood, or Kettering, there isn’t trash flying down the street. There aren’t the residue of leaves that weren’t picked up.

Now let’s look at Dayton.

If your trash isn’t in the roll-out container- except for the couple weeks after Christmas- it doesn’t get picked up. If it falls out of the back of the trash truck- it doesn’t get picked up. This means trash ends up rolling down the street.

The reason: we have a “make-out and quit” policy with waste collection. They do their route- and as fast as they get it done- the day is done. So instead of getting 8 hours of trash collection for 8 hours of pay- we get 5.5.

It’s been that way for years- and it’s part of the problem.

Street sweeping and leaf collection is just as bad. In any smart city, the signs are posted the day before the cleaning- and one side of the street is cleaned- and the other the next. Not in Dayton. Streets are often swept with cars parked- hence leaves don’t get picked up- and end up clogging storm sewers- and catching water, freezing and breaking up the roadway.

Simple things that we can’t get right- and now, our new City Manager is talking about “Economic Development.”

Get the service delivery right first- then economic development follows- not the other way around.

Here is part of what was in the DDN today:

Dayton city manager to focus on economy, services

DAYTON — Dayton City Manager Rashad Young wants to change operations at City Hall to put greater emphasis on boosting the economy and enhancing the way services are delivered to residents.”The overall reorganization plan reflects my belief that not any one person or department is responsible for the city’s success and progress,” Young said. “Rather, the philosophy of the reorganization is that every city employee has an interactive role to play in making our community attractive to residents, visitors, employers and employees.
The cost of the reorganization will be offset by streamlining other functions.

The plan, announced Friday, calls for creation of a third assistant city manger position focused primarily on economic development.

“This position will be very important to strengthening the city’s tax base and maintaining Dayton as a thriving core of the region,” Young said…

If Young is serious about delivery of customer service- how about setting up an ombudsman- who will take complaints, distribute them for resolution, and insure that the jobs are done. This should be tracked by a data base- and city departments are scored for efficency.

It was an idea I suggested when I first ran for office long ago- and it’s long overdue for implementation.

If you want to see people and business invest in our city, the best insurance that they won’t lose money on their efforts is to make sure that our city delivers the basic services at the highest level possible- do that, and the rest will follow.

We’ve got a million groups focused on “economic development”- but no one focused on getting the basics right. Tackle that first Mr. City Manager.

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed! If you wish to support this blog and independent journalism in Dayton, consider donating. All of the effort that goes into writing posts and creating videos comes directly out of my pocket, so any amount helps!