County uses data for economic development

Montgomery County has created an online community dashboard where people can find information in one place on crime, housing, wellness, population and economic trend.

The dashboard, accessible at mcohio.org, was unveiled Tuesday and is full of data points and metrics, such as the number of new building permits, changing levels of housing affordability and the county’s bond rating.

The online resource is intended to highlight the community’s advantages as well as its economic appeal, competitiveness and overall health, county officials said. The goal is to attract investment, but it also will help the county better track changing social and economic conditions.

The information is intended to serve as a guide for the county, revealing problems and unfavorable trends that need addressed.

“The theory here is you manage better what you measure,” said Commissioner Dan Foley.

The dashboard measures seven different areas: population trends, community advantages, neighborhood safety, economic vitality, educational attainment, financial stability and health and wellness.

Clicking on each category produces a series of charts and data points.

The economic vitality category provides information about the region’s industrial mix, the local gross domestic product and the number of building permits and foreclosure and bankruptcy filings. The data come from a variety of internal and external sources.

The dashboard provides timely, useful and objective indicators for prospective residents and companies, officials said. It will allow people who are considering relocating or investing in the area to learn about its attributes and character.

“The challenge we faced was … how do you really show how great you are?” said Cathy Petersen, a county spokeswoman who helped create the dashboard. “We looked at how we rank in different studies and reports.”

Dashboard visitors will learn that housing in the area is extremely affordable, officials said. They will learn Dayton area hospitals rank highly for performance and outcomes. They will learn that the region’s real personal income is on the rise, and that bankruptcy and foreclosure filings are droppings.

Unflattering figures, such as those showing population loss, can be instructive, indicating where the county needs to focus resources, said Commissioner Debbie Lieberman.

“You can see we have some work to do,” she said. “So we look at the data and we form partnerships with the groups and organizations that can help us change that trend.”

Commissioner Foley envisions companies using the dashboard to help make decisions about whether to expand, invest or increase hiring. He said county employees may use it when preparing or analyzing their budget.

He said the dashboard will certainly evolve over time, and metrics will be added or removed, based on their usefulness.

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