Attitudes about the city are less positive among longer-term residents, poorer households and members of Generation X.
“Clearly we have work to do, but I like the direction,” said Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley.
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Nearly one in four Dayton residents say they have lived in the city for less than 10 years, according to a 2017 survey by Maryland firm OpinionWorks.
This group of newer arrivals have some of the most optimistic views about the trajectory of the city: 64 percent believe Dayton is headed in the right direction, compared to 18 percent who say it is on the wrong track.
About 42 percent of people who have lived here their whole lives like the city’s trajectory, while 29 percent of this group do not.
“New residents are much more satisfied with the direction of the city,” said Steve Raabe, president of OpinionWorks.
Officials said people who have lived in Dayton a long time have longer memories of the city, which may shade their perception since they can recall some of the city’s lowest points and turbulent times. Some residents may be jaded about the city, some city leaders said.
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Dayton officials have made attracting and retaining young people and creative professionals a major focus of their redevelopment plans, strategies and investments.
In addition to the city’s efforts, volunteer organizations and community groups have sprung up in order to try to change the perception of Dayton as a dying city.
Dayton Inspires, for example, was created to beautify the city, promote community pride and give people a platform to showcase what they like about the city.
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These efforts may be working: Dayton’s millennials are feeling better and more hopeful about the state of the city, compared to older generations.
Sixty-two percent of residents ages 18 to 34 like the direction of the city, compared to 19 percent who don’t.
Less than half of residents 35 to 64 believe that Dayton is headed in the correct direction.
Higher-earning households also have higher optimism levels about Dayton.
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Nearly 70 percent of households in the city earning between $75,000 and $100,000 think things are looking up for Dayton.
Furthermore, 78 percent of Dayton households with incomes above $100,000 feel the same way.
Nearly one in three Dayton households that earn less than $10,000 per year feel like the city is headed in the wrong direction.
More than one in four households that earn less than $75,000 believe the city is off track.