Resiliency key to new regional economic planning process

Regional leaders are working on a new economic plan intended to generate quality jobs, diversify the economy and spur economic growth.

On Wednesday the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission and the Dayton Development Coalition hosted a virtual kick-off attended by more than 155 regional leaders, stakeholders and others to start drafting a new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy.

“The CEDS process is intended to be a call to action for economic development, establishing our ability to be resilient and well positioned to plan for, respond to and recover from economic shocks,” said Julie Sullivan, the coalition’s executive vice president of regional development. “As our region shows our resources are used efficiently and effectively, we are more likely to attract federal funds and technical assistance.”

The planning document is required to access federal funds such as the disaster recovery and COVID-19 relief money that came to the Dayton region over the past two years. The new Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy will replace the region’s 2012 plan and is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

It is required by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration and current rules call for it to be updated every five years.

The Dayton region had to commit to producing an updated CEDS in order to access disaster recovery funds after the 2019 tornadoes and for COVID-19 relief funds, said Stacy Schweikhart, director of strategy and engagement for the planning commission.

Credit: Contributed

Credit: Contributed

“The EDA offers significant funding opportunities to communities impacted by disasters,” she said. “To date, the region has secured nearly $10 million from the EDA for disaster recovery projects, including Dayton water treatment plant generators, Greene County sewer improvements and the Miami Conservancy District’s reconstruction of the levees around the hard-hit Old North Dayton neighborhood.”

CEDS is designed to contribute to “effective economic development in America’s communities and regions through a locally-based, regionally-driven economic development planning process” and “serves as a means to engage community leaders, leverage the involvement of the private sector, and establish a strategic blueprint for regional collaboration,” according to the administration’s website.

Ellen Heinz, the region’s economic development representative at the EDA, said federal investment priorities include:

  • Equity for underserved and rural communities.
  • Building resilience to economic shocks.
  • Workforce development.
  • Manufacturing job creation, expansion and technology upgrades.
  • Fostering “knowledge ecosystems” supporting entrepreneurs and creating well-paying jobs of the future.
  • Environmentally sustainable development to address climate change.
  • Building assets to support U.S. growth and exports.

The local plan will encompass those requirements, as well as identify regional goals, determine ways to streamline resources and further diversify the regional economy, officials said. Community engagement in the whole process is required and that will occur through the fall as the plan is prepared for submission to the feds.

The meeting Wednesday included quick polls for participants to respond to. Participants said the region’s most significant risk is the ability to attract and regain talent.

Top answers for what the region’s greatest success has been over the past decade are the strength of the defense sector and success at economic diversification.

Forty-three percent said the region’s strongest opportunity for strategic growth is logistics, distribution and supply chain growth.

Economic resilience was listed as the top aspiration for the region, followed closely by making the region the community of choice for young talent.

Geographic location and vibrant local communities were chosen as the region’s top assets.

The CEDS is separate from the annual Dayton Region Priority Development and Advocacy Committee process, which produces a list of community-evaluated projects seeking state and federal funding.

Visit the Dayton Development Coalition’s website for more information about the Dayton region CEDS process and to offer feedback.

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