Gem City Rising — Thoughts from Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley

26, November 2019

Gem City Rising

Dear Colleagues:

When I was approached to join the Accelerator for America Advisory Council, one of the things I heard from Mayor Eric Garcetti and Rick Jacobs was that the organization sought to be more than just another think tank. The Accelerator would be a “do tank.” 

What that means quickly became apparent to me as I saw how the Accelerator combined thoughtful policy papers with action which, in just the two years since the Accelerator has been in existence, has helped generate billions of dollars in benefits for some of America’s most underserved communities – including neighborhoods in my city of Dayton.

A few weeks ago, the Accelerator and my office partnered to host “Gem City Rising: Economic Resiliency and Renewal.” This is an example of the practical, on-the-ground work the Accelerator does all over the country. The day-long summit brought together local, regional, and national community and economic development practitioners, policymakers, investors, and developers to gain a deeper understanding of Dayton’s incredible potential. This summit highlighted the work that Dayton has done – and will continue to do – to build community wealth in a way that benefits our underserved residents while at the same time presenting a valuable opportunity for investors.

We focused on Dayton’s Opportunity Zones, of which there are 17, including our entire downtown area. Our Investment Prospectus (Dayton is one of now 47 cities to have utilized this tool invented by the Accelerator, another “do” tank action) and the great work of City Manager Shelley Dickstein and her team provided those gathered with a clear road map for meaningful investment. 

And we dispelled people’s assumptions about Dayton. Today, our population is growing, reversing decades of steady decline. And transformative investments are coming in. For example, Verily, the Alphabet subsidiary that reimagines healthcare, is investing hundreds of millions of dollars into a modern campus dedicated to the data-driven, long-term treatment of addictions. Investors from China and Spain are looking to create new production facilities here that will employ hundreds of people. The University of Dayton and Bill Struever of Cross Street Partners are leading the one million square foot redevelopment of our storied Arcade building, which will open next year to become one of the premier culinary, shopping, office, innovation, and lifestyle centers in the Midwest. 

Thanks to all of you for your support of the Accelerator and, by extension, the great city of Dayton. I know that next month’s meeting in Waterloo will be a great success – another city where the Accelerator has been on the ground hard at work, and another example – like Dayton – that proves that at a time when Washington is so broken, local communities are moving America forward.

Thank you.

Nan Whaley
Mayor, Dayton, Ohio