Dayton is in danger of losing residents who are members of the much-coveted millennial generation.
That’s a problem for a city that wants to grow its population and needs a talented young workforce to help it become what it aspires to be: a hub of tech, entrepreneurship and innovation.
About 29 percent of Dayton’s millennials (ages 18 to 34) say they are unlikely to stay in the city in the next five years, according to the city’s annual survey.
That compares to 21 percent of Gen-Xers who say they are unlikely to remain here, 13 percent of baby boomers and 5 percent of seniors. About 30 percent of millennials say they are not sure if they will stay or that it depends.
Some residents think it has to do with housing and opportunities.
Earlier this year, Darryl Fairchild, Dayton’s newest city commissioner, hosted a town hall at the Dayton Metro Library. Visitors were encouraged to ask questions and share their concerns about conditions in the city.
Multiple speakers said the city needs to do more to attract and retain millennials.
Many millennials who are starting out in their careers and want to live downtown cannot afford the condos and homes for sale, said resident Jamie Rippey.
Few homes are for sale downtown, and some cost more than $300,000. Most of the newer housing downtown is apartments, which can also be pricey.
Chris Goodwine, 32, who lives in the Dayton View area, said she wants to know what the city is doing to attract employers to the west side. Many people live in those neighborhoods, but the lack of jobs and things to do will make it hard to hold onto young residents, she said.
She said she can’t get a salad after 7 p.m. anywhere near her. She said it’s frustrating that there are no places in her part of town to spend her money.
“Everything … that’s going on downtown is pretty awesome, but as a millennial myself, and after the big hit that we took with (Good Samaritan Hospital closing), it’s really hard to stay in Dayton when there’s nothing on my side of town,” she said.
Millennials and first-time homebuyers are needed to help revitalize the city’s deteriorating neighborhoods, said Monica Snow, an Oregon District resident.
She said the private sector and nonprofit organizations hopefully can help provide resources to offer incentives and programs for things like rehabbing homes.
At the end of the town hall, Fairchild said the city needs to focus its efforts to better engage the youth and offer programming for young people.
“I think that’s the biggest resource that we squander,” he said.