Dayton-Area Leaders Tout 2018 as ‘Unbelievable’ Year for Local Economy

Jan 23, 2019 | News, Newsletter

John Bush
Staff Reporter
Dayton Business Journal

 

Thousands of new jobs and millions of dollars in capital investment have positioned the Dayton region for another successful year in 2018.

As the new year approaches, the Dayton Development Coalition and Montgomery County are starting to provide data that paints
a clear picture of how the economy faired over the past year. By most economic indicators, the trend is positive when compared
to 2017.

“We had an unbelievable 2018,” said Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition. “This year will go
down as one of the best years we’ve had in the eight years we’ve been tracking these numbers.”

The DDC, which manages regional job creation and attraction in a 14-county area surrounding Dayton, reported 3,723 new jobs were committed through JobsOhio projects in 2018. That’s up 79 percent from last year when 2,078 jobs were committed.

The surge of new jobs are also high paying. The DDC noted $196.7 million in new payroll was generated from these positions, which is up more than $80 million from last year and is the most in at least seven years.

Julie Sullivan, executive vice president of regional development for the coalition, said the average wage associated with these positions is around $58,000. That’s up more than $20,000 from five years ago when average yearly earnings stood at $36,000.

“The payroll trend is up, and that has a ripple effect on the economy,” Sullivan said. “It allows people to have more expendable income so they can buy things like houses and cars.”

But it wasn’t just new jobs that made the economy hum in 2018. The DDC also reported 12,583 positions were retained this year, meaning companies that could have moved elsewhere decided to stay in the Dayton area. This represented the highest amount of retained jobs in the coalition’s history, according to Hoagland.

While jobs committed/retained and new payroll were up this year, capital investment and the number of projects won saw a slight downtown. Investment dropped from $949.7 million last year to $787.7 million in 2018, a 17 percent decrease. Projects won also fell, falling from 37 to 32.

Despite the downturn in capital investment and projects won, Hoagland said the overall economic trend is positive.

“The Dayton economy is very strong,” he said. “We’re more diverse than we’ve ever been before, and that’s something we have been focused on and will continue to focus on.”

The 2018 numbers were sparked by a big October. That month, the jobs committed, capital investment and new payroll numbers all doubled, and jobs retained tripled. In one week alone, six companies announced they would bring nearly 1,900 jobs to the Dayton region and invest more than $300 million in new facilities and expansions.

Most of these projects were included in the DDC data, though an expansion from Speedway LLC — the largest company in the region — was not counted because it was not a JobsOhio project. The retail giant is bringing 300 new jobs to the region as part of a $48 million expansion project at its headquarters in Enon.

While the DDC data shows job creation and investment from a broader region, numbers from Montgomery County provide a more localized look at economic development.

Based on two funding cycles from the Montgomery County Economic Development/Government Equity program — an initiative that provides reimbursement dollars for companies that invest in the area — 1,273 new jobs were committed and 780 positions were retained for projects that have a total value of $254.3 million. These numbers would have been even higher, but a $13 million project with 35 new jobs was canceled.

These investments came from companies in a variety of industries, signaling the Montgomery County economy is becoming increasingly diverse. These industries ranged from logistics and distribution to aerospace, IT and advanced manufacturing.

“I’m very excited about the growth of jobs and companies located here — it speaks to our work in the region,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Deborah Lieberman. “Our focus on sectors has been successful, and we will continue to focus on sectors.”

Erik Collins, community and economic development director for Montgomery County, said 2018 was “another great year” for the county. He said the reason companies are increasingly looking to do business in the county is based on a few factors.

“I think that’s due to all the partners that we work with to really stay focused on our development plan,” Collins said. “That includes different areas from the business attraction front, including our marketing efforts and developing case studies on why Montgomery County is a good place to do business. I think a lot of that is our speed — helping companies get things done faster — whether that’s building permits, financing, etc. We also try to reduce the risk of doing business here, and hopefully the cost is better as well.”

The 2018 job and investment numbers are even better when you consider the growth of Wright- Patterson Air Force Base. In 2018, two massive projects were announced that will bring hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in capital expenditure to the base.

These projects included a $182 million expansion of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, which is headquartered at Wright-Patt, and a new F-35 stealth fighter jet program that is bringing 440 jobs to the base. The NASIC expansion, which was not included in the DDC data, is the largest single-site construction project in the history of the base.

“These investments are a testament to the incredible workforce at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Miami Valley’s critical role in supporting our national defense,” said U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (DOH).  “It’s no surprise the Air Force and Congress are recognizing that this base, and the service members and civilians who work here, are the best at what they do when it comes to helping our country meet its most pressing national security needs.”

The Wright-Patt projects were aided by the bipartisan efforts of Brown, Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton). Hoagland said these legislators, the DDC, the governor’s office and many others spent years advocating for the NASIC and F-35 initiatives.

“I’m proud of the work we’ve done together to benefit Dayton and the surrounding region,” Portman said. “The new F-35 mission creating 440 jobs at Wright-Patt is a perfect example of how federal, state and local partners worked as one in order to secure this important project. I’ve worked closely with key stakeholders, including the Dayton Development Coalition, and the results are clearly benefiting the Dayton community.”

Turner described 2018 as a “landmark year for investment and growth in the Miami Valley thanks to the coordination of our community leaders.”

“This year I’ve worked together with our local leaders to increase the economic and job growth of our region,” Turner said. “I led the Ohio delegation in pushing for the new F-35 mission coming to Wright-Patt, which will mean at least 400 new jobs. I secured the largest expansion at Wright-Patt in its history with a $182 million new building coming to the National Air and Space Intelligence Center. From tax reform, we’ve seen manufacturing businesses like Staub Manufacturing, GEMCITY, and Fuyao
all seeking new employees and growing operations.”

Ohio Secretary of State Jon Husted, who was recently elected as Ohio’s next lieutenant governor, made several stops in the Miami Valley on his campaign trail. He said he was impressed with what he saw.

“There’s no question things in Ohio, and in particular the Dayton area, took a turn for the better in 2018,” Husted said. “There are a number of jobs related both to Dayton’s biggest asset — WrightPatterson Air Force Base — and also jobs in the private sector, which really provide a reason for optimism in the Dayton area.”

But Husted cautioned the region must not get complacent.

“The question is, how do you build on that success?” he asked. “Where do you want to go in 2019, and what are the changes you need to make to be sure that Dayton continues to position itself for success?”

Husted said he and governor-elect Mike DeWine plan to put someone in charge of Ohio’s military installations to ensure jobs are protected and economic growth continues. They also plan to focus on job-ready sites for companies looking to locate in the region, and making sure there is a strong talent pool to fill jobs that are created.

Workforce development and attraction is also an issue the DDC plans to focus on in 2019.

“We will continue to focus on the talent development pipeline,” Sullivan said. “Companies need people, and we want to help them find the skilled workers they need.”

Though workforce development will remain a challenge for most businesses heading into next year, there will be plenty of opportunities for economic growth in 2019.

“The pipeline for 2019 is full and stronger than it’s ever been,” Hoagland said. “The momentum we have over the next 12 to 36 months is very exciting.”