Catherine Crosby, the head of the city-run Dayton Human Relations Council (DHRC), says the west side is seeing a perfect storm of increasing poverty, population loss, low wages, and property values that have crashed since the Recession, not to mention “brain drain,” or the effect of educated young people leaving Dayton and taking their skills with them.
“If we’re not able to retain those individuals that have the potential for a higher income, it does challenge our economic mobility,” she says.
She thinks support for small, locally-owned businesses is essential for rebuilding in neighborhoods that have been stripped of resources. “One of the things that we have to do is the help the residents understand how important it is to support businesses there, particularly small businesses.”
Crosby also says subtle forms of discrimination can make it difficult for minority and women-owned businesses to succeed and procure contracts. The DHRC’s Minority Business Assistance Center helps build the capacity of minority and women-owned businesses, and the council also works with big projects like the Dayton Metro Library expansion and the racino being built on Wagner-Ford Rd to encourage them to invest
“We’re only as strong as our weakest link,” she says, “so if we’re not developing all of our businesses, if we’re not supporting all of our community, the entire community suffers.”
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.