City, state leaders discuss Dayton

Dayton city leaders met with members of the State Senate and Legislature earlier this month to discuss concerns they had with potential legislation and also give an update on the city’s development projects. Eight locally elected members of the State legislature and Senate attended the meeting.

City leaders were able to tout their plans for the redevelopment of the greater Downtown Dayton area as both a business center and a key recreation area centered on biking excursions and the Little Miami River.

“The river is a key asset to the city,” said Sandy Gudorf of the Downtown Dayton Partnership.

Mike Ervin of the Downtown Dayton Partnership said studies they conducted showed that the Greater Downtown Dayton region had a $5 billion impact on the region, nearly as much as Wright Patterson Air Force Base.

Ervin said in recent months the downtown area has benefited from an influx of job-creating businesses. Moving forward, the downtown still faced challenges in finding uses for vacant and underutilized spaces and a lack of funding for social issues such as homelessness and addiction in the area as well as funding for continued infrastructure improvements, Ervin said.

Shelley Dickstein, Assistant City Manager for Strategic Development said that the city’s brownfield redevelopment projects were being hindered by changing policies of the state to not give grants for brownfield redevelopment until a user of the area had already been identified.

“It can take up to 24 months to redevelop a brownfield,” Dickstein said. “Most companies aren’t willing to wait that long. They want something that can be ready to go in nine months.”

Dickstein said she was concerned that the state would phase out the program because of a perceived lack of need for the funds because of the new policy when in fact the policy was needed but the new guidelines were too stringent to be met.

In the past, Dayton has received $32 million in grants for brownfield redevelopment and been able to leverage that money into more than $180 million in investments, Dickstein said.

Catherine Crosby of the minority business enterprise division also expressed concerns about the elimination of the minority business enterprise division as a separate line item in the State of Ohio budget.

“Doing that will dilute the pool of funding available to focus on minority business development,” Crosby said.