Dayton named a ‘top emerging market’ for technology talent

A 2017 file photo of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Sensors Directorate. (U.S. Air Force photo)
A 2017 file photo of the Air Force Research Laboratory’s Sensors Directorate. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Dayton is a top “emerging” hub for technology-oriented talent and job growth, according to a new report from real estate firm CBRE.

The report puts the metro area’s tech employment in 2020 at 18,930, with growth in technology jobs in the past five years pegged at 31% and tech wages at just over $90,000.

“There’s been an increase in tech jobs and companies in Dayton, which can be attributed to several different factors,” said Matt Arnovitz, senior associate with CBRE in Dayton. “Dayton is a very vibrant city with direct talent pipelines from the University of Dayton, Wright State, Miami of Ohio, University of Cincinnati and Ohio State in Columbus.”

The report, in its ninth year, ranks what it says are the top 50 North American markets by analyzing ability to attract and develop talent, focusing on graduation rates, tech-job concentration, labor pool size, labor and real estate costs, and diversity ratios.

Technology jobs tended to weather the pandemic well, the report says.

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“This resilience is setting the stage for strong tech job growth amid the economic recovery across established tech capitals like the San Francisco Bay Area, Seattle and Toronto and emerging hubs such as Dayton, Huntsville and Colorado Springs,” an introduction to the CBRE report says.

“Many factors already are in place to fuel strong tech-talent job growth this year and beyond coming out of the pandemic,” said Todd Husak, managing director of CBRE’s Tech & Media Practice Group. “Big tech markets will gain from their established pipelines of tech graduates and many workers’ return to city centers. Smaller markets will reap benefits from their cost advantages in labor and real estate, as well as the tech industry’s embrace of remote work for certain employees.”

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The Dayton area, of course, is home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, itself home to more than 30,000 military and civilian employees supporting Air Force research and logistics missions. The base remains Ohio’s largest single-site employer.

Among those Wright-Patterson missions: The Air Force Research Lab supports both the Air Force and the fledgling Space Force.

During a 2017 visit to Wright-Patterson, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson toured the Air Force Research Laboratory. ” Taking a closer look at the responsive, relevant and revolutionary work @Team_AFRL has been doing for 100 years,” she wrote on her Twitter page. CONTRIBUTED
During a 2017 visit to Wright-Patterson, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson toured the Air Force Research Laboratory. ” Taking a closer look at the responsive, relevant and revolutionary work @Team_AFRL has been doing for 100 years,” she wrote on her Twitter page. CONTRIBUTED

AFRL has invested heavily in Ohio businesses, with $384.4 million in spending obligated to small businesses in fiscal year 2020 and another $270 million to businesses outside that category, according to data the AFRL shared with the Dayton Development Coalition earlier this year.

Earlier this month, the Chicago Tribune listed the Dayton-Kettering metro area as among the cities where “your dollar goes the furthest,” citing data from the Bureau of Economic Analysis’s 2019 Regional Price Parity index, released in December 2020.

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“The densely urban city of Dayton gets high ranks for livability and for its cost of living, with the average prices of housing, groceries, transportation and groceries on the low side,” the Tribune said.

The newspaper ranked Dayton-Kettering area fourth out of 15 ranked metro areas.

“There’s a high quality of life here with a lower cost of living for people who don’t necessarily want to live in major hubs like San Francisco or New York. We expect to see the amount of tech workers and company in the region continue to grow,” Arnovitz said.