Newly sworn-in Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley was at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Jan. 22-24, and she came back with some insights about what mayors can do to grow jobs and make the most of natural resources.
In this interview, Mayor Whaley turns the blame for Ohio’s sluggish job growth on Governor John Kasich’s administration and his semi-private development project, JobsOhio, which has been criticized for working to subsidize corporate investments while declining to be transparent about its own operations and costs. JobsOhio was linked with Dayton’s most recent major jobs announcement, the Fuyao Auto Glass plant planned for Moraine, but the organization has not yet released information what state-level subsidies or incentives that project might receive.
Ohio ranked 45th in the country for year-over-year job growth in December of 2013, a ranking that has plummeted since mid-2012, when Ohio was ranked 4th. As part of her campaign focus on education, Mayor Whaley says she believes improving pre-K education as well as job training should be the focus of long-term job growth efforts in Dayton. She says strengthening the middle class is key to Dayton's economic development efforts, framing housing as a local, municipal issue and jobs as a regional issue—thus, developing or redeveloping housing is an implied priority of her administration.
Environmental adaptation in the face of climate change was another focus of the U.S mayors’ meeting, and Whaley says Dayton will need to adapt and become more energy-efficient. She also believes the city can take greater advantage of its water resources, investing in more geothermal energy production and eventually using the freshwater aquifer to appeal to out-of-state companies to come here.
Under Construction is WYSO’s series on growth in the greater Dayton area. We dig underneath the physical and economic markers of growth to look at the human consequences. Check back Thursdays for new installments.