In an attempt to generate new jobs and increase public revenues for their airport, leaders in Dayton, Ohio, and surrounding townships are looking to develop 600 acres around the city-owned airport for economic development purposes. An initial step in enhancing the area was conducting a data-driven analysis to determine which industries to target based on the existing labor force and industrial base.
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Dayton works to overcome economic downturn
With the departure of major companies such as Fortune 500 NCR Corp. to Georgia and downsizing of other firms, the Dayton area has lost high-paying jobs and seen its unemployment rate nearly double to more than 11% in the last year. The region’s economic losses and excess skilled workforce prompted airport and city officials to emphasize economic development in their airport master plan. One of the goals is to attract industries to property surrounding the Dayton International Airport to strengthen the regional economy. Airport Director Iftikhar Ahmad also believed that a key to future economic success is identifying industries that would bolster the Dayton area’s supply chain.
The airport contracted with Gresham Smith and Partners of Nashville, TN, to complete the master plan, and GSP in turn brought on Janus Economics, a business location and economic development consulting firm, to complete a thorough economic development assessment of the airport area and four-county Dayton MSA. Janus and EMSI came together to create an unique, three-tiered approach for the study:
A SWOT analysis to gauge the strengths and weaknesses in the region, and a targeted industry report to ensure city and economic development officials focus on attracting or growing businesses that work best given Dayton’s unique assets.
A supply gap analysis for all industries in the region to determine which supplier industries have the biggest gaps between the local demand for products and the percentage of their inputs produced in the area.
A matching of the labor needs of the major supply gap industries with the available workforce in the region based on knowledge, skills, and abilities embedded in the occupations and the highest-developed skill ranges.
Study shows medical-related industries are good fit
EMSI’s data and tools provided the basis for the industry and occupational analysis, as well the supply gap study that relied on input-output modeling. Robert Pittman and Jennifer Tanner, Senior Principals at Janus, also looked at the “transportation intensity” of different industries (again using EMSI data), since Dayton has a strong transportation infrastructure and industries that rely on air, rail, and highway transportation would naturally be good fits to locate near the airport.
With the data collection complete, Janus created a weighted average index based on the aforementioned economic and labor force variables and came up with the top 15 supply chain industries that would work best in the airport property. The top of the list included several industries related to pharmaceutical and medical/biological product manufacturing, which matched Dayton’s economic base since the area has a medical school and active pharmaceutical/medical cluster.
The study was completed in the spring of 2009, and the next step is for the city’s economic development team to market the results to prospective businesses. As for the project itself, Pittman says, “Blending EMSI’s data expertise with our economic development expertise and coming up with new approaches is what really made the study unique. It’s a neat story.”
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Economic Modeling Specialists Inc. (EMSI) is a professional services firm that offers integrated regional data, web-based analysis tools, data-driven reports, and custom consulting services. EMSI has served thousands of workforce, education, economic development, and other policy professionals in the U.S., Canada, and the United Kingdom, and the company’s web-based Strategic Advantage research and analysis suite is used by over 2,500 professionals across the U.S. For more information, call (866) 999-3674.