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DaytonCREATE Convenes with Governor Strickland and Mayor McLin

DAYTON, Ohio (10/16/08)Catalyzing Economic Development via Community Involvement-
Ohio Governor Ted Strickland and Dayton Mayor Rhine McClin convened with a group of DaytonCREATE catalysts and volunteers to discuss the economic revitalization of the Dayton-Springfield region. The meeting was held at The Entrepreneurs Center in downtown Dayton.

Change agents from the five teams of the DaytonCREATE initiative gathered to encourage the Governor and the Office of Economic Development to support state-level initiatives that enable economic revitalization and development efforts at the community level.

“This is visionary,” said Mayor Rhine McLin in her opening remarks, speaking of the depth and breadth of the DaytonCREATE initiative. “This is reality,” followed Sean Creighton, Executive Director of SOCHE. “It’s about people, it’s about place, and it’s about becoming such an attractive environment that jobs come to the people and come to the place. This is the hope, that community revitalization and change can happen at this level.”

Film Dayton
Gloria Skurski, president of Film Dayton, stated “this region has a very strong potential for building a significant film industry,” an industry that can bring very good jobs to recent graduates and unemployed but highly skilled blue collar workers. “The remarkable program at Wright State University, combined with the nucleus of critically acclaimed filmmakers and high-tech post-production technologies creates an environment ripe for collaboration and job creation.” Along with our local talent, “we have historic architecture, small town Americana, four seasons, and a very supportive city government,” Skurski said. “State tax incentives are the missing ingredient.”

Scott Murphy, of updayton, spoke of the “talent wars,” the increasing need to attract and retain young professionals. Updayton is developing a model to maintain “a constant focus on engaging and retaining our young talent.”

Katy Crosby, co-ordinator for the first updayton Young Creatives Summit to be held in April 2009, stated, “We need elected officials to tell us what you need from us, so that we community leaders can be sure to funnel energies in effective directions.” Crosby added, “Gather together young professional groups across the state and tell them ‘this is what is expected of you as the leadership of your community.”

Creative Incubator
Kate Ervin, with the Creative Incubator team, said, we need to ensure “vital urban areas and strong cultural arts scenes. We need to highlight the territorial assets of our core cities- the quality of life and amenities that a city can offer is what will attract young people to move there and stay. It’s the ballet, and the restaurants, but it’s also the emerging artists and their space needs.” Bing Davis, a practicing artist and arts educator for 46 years added, “someone told me once that the best resource of any community is the creative and fertile minds of it’s citizens. We need to acknowledge and attenuate that.”

Davis emphasized the need to maintain educational funding for the arts: “The things we cut out are the very things we need. The arts should be for every child coming up. If art is done well- with good pedagogy and teaching- then what is happening in the child is creative problem solving, assessment and evaluation- all the skills you need no matter what job you get. And it’s vital- it’s not just for those who would become artists anyways, regardless. Arts is a way of knowing and expressing that must be for every child, and we need to keep that in the educational experience.”

Innovation Collaborative
Sarah Ammar of Innovation Collaborative said, “That I, at 22, can sit across from the governor and talk about how cool my community is- this accessibility really engages people and brings them into the fold.” Bringing divergent thinkers together, people of diverse ages and occupations- is vital to innovation, spurs economic development, and brings about a sense of ownership in community that crosses age and class differences.

This Is Dayton
Dave Seyer of This Is Dayton spoke of the importance of reminding and re-introducing a region to its assets. “We are not just this city in the rustbelt. Charlie Gibson was here last week with the ABC tour, the first 20 seconds was about closed housing and run down buildings – that’s not us! That’s part of us, but that’s not what we are.” Seyer continued, “We’ve got such incredible infrastructure here that we have many great opportunities for people to be part of the community- which sometimes you don’t get in other cities. People come here and feel welcome.”

“The power of this entire initiative is that it brings together not strictly the artists, but the people in the community who have other skills, who are creative in science and technology and other areas,” said Susan Byrnes, also of This Is Dayton. “I chose to move to Dayton a few years ago- above New York City- because I found a different environment here- a place where I could know all of these people around the table, a place where I could meet the Governor. This would not be happening to me in New York City.”

Byrnes continued: “The size of the community, the nature of the arts in the community, and the fact that we have all of these innovative people here who want to talk to each other, who want to be in an intellectually stimulating community that crosses the boundaries between technology, science, and the arts. That is really the power of DaytonCREATE.”

All photographs courtesy Andy Snow. More here.

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