Economic development isn’t a function of marketing- it’s a function of business process control (Kaizen for quality of life) and customer service. People visit Disneyland because they like entering a perfect fantasy land- where all the grass is cut, there isn’t a spot of dirt, and everything goes exactly how they expect- it’s fun, it’s enjoyable and yes it’s expensive- but worth it.
Cities have been their own worst enemy. Instead of focusing on building on strengths- where the least effort makes the greatest gains- and then let the market take over, they tend to focus on the biggest problems- letting the fundamentals of running a city get lost in the shuffle. Sweeping streets may be the most powerful tool available to government for economic development- and it’s probably one of the most overlooked. Making it easy to open and run a business is another- but is there any true coordination on all the taxes, filings, permits etc? Hardly.
While it’s nice to believe you can lure a business to your city with a huge tax abatement- unless the employer can find and retain a workforce that wants to live in your city- it’s pointless. Public amenities like parks, bike trails, recreational facilities, arts, culture that are what set one city apart from another- make a bigger impact than any “economic incentive package.”
If the rumors are true about NCR wanting to leave Dayton for Atlanta– it’s probably more a factor of being hard to convince young, bright talented people to move to a community that seems to be asleep at the wheel in terms of creating that Disney image of a great place to be.
The number one culprits may very well be our local media outlets- that consider every shooting, house fire, or twisted act by some low-life to be the most important thing to our citizenry. War breaking out in the Middle East takes back seat to a sick woman torching her home and children.
Elevate the level of conversation- to issues, news that really matters- and treating the populace like an educated, cultured group- and maybe, our collective self-esteem may rise.
Dayton isn’t perfect- but, it is affordable, centrally located, has nice people, no traffic jams, plenty of water, zero hurricanes (although we will get an occasional twister) and abundant opportunities for public space recreation, arts, culture and higher education (from the super affordable Sinclair- to the pricey University of Dayton).
Just a few thoughts from a morning bike ride.
What do you think?