The village of Yellow Springs, on the surface, is hopping economically. Property values are headed up, and downtown vacancies are low. Antioch College is growing and just opened a renovated fitness and wellness center. But just below the surface, the village has a lot of the same issues as other parts of the region. A lack of well-paying jobs means it’s becoming more of a bedroom community.
The trailer company Airstream has announced a major expansion at its facility in Jackson Center, Ohio, 56 miles north of Dayton. The company is investing $5.9 million dollars in the project, and its parent company, Thor Industries, says the millions they’re putting into the expansion will allow them to increase office capacity and production of their famous silver travel-trailers by 70%.
Airstream is Jackson Center’s biggest employer, according to Village Administrator Bruce Metz.
This weekend is the grand opening of a new Dollar General in Vandalia; the chain has been growing steadily in the region even as another discount store, K-Mart, has announced closures in Fairborn and Springfield.
Ever since the recession, low-cost discount stores like Kmart have seen competition from below, with smaller discount stores with low prices experiencing record growth. Dollar General has been one of the biggest winners: all over the country the stores are getting bigger and offering more, including cheap grocery products.
Janet Bednarek, a professor of history at the University of Dayton, specializes in airports—and in the idea of the airport as a hub for economic growth. She thinks airports bring a lot of potential, but there are also limitations; ultimately, she says, corporations decide where they want to go, and an “if you build it, they will come” approach can backfire.
“Dayton has always tried to capitalize on the fact that we’re at the intersection of two major interstates,” says Bednarek. “It just seems like the ability to capitalize on that hasn’t seemed to happen yet.”