Dayton, Cincinnati populations merging closer together

When Seattle-based digital commerce company SMITH chose to move its firm to Austin Landing, the company’s owner said the location between Cincinnati and Dayton was good fit for employee recruiting.

Business leaders in Southwest Ohio said they are hearing this more often as Dayton and Cincinnati continue to grow closer to becoming one metropolitan area as more companies locate between the two cities.

The middle region between the two metro areas is the fastest growing part of Southwest Ohio. By 2040, the U.S. Census Bureau projects that Butler and Warren counties will have the biggest gains in population, while Montgomery County will lose the most residents compared to its neighbors

RELATED: A combined Cincinnati-Dayton metropolitan comes closer to reality

It’s not clear how close the Cincinnati and Dayton metro areas are to getting the long-anticipated federal designation as one combined metro area, but in the practical sense, Southwest Ohio is increasingly behaving as one blended region.

“Will a combined (metropolitan statistical area) happen soon? We hope so. We have no idea,” said Jill P. Meyer, president and CEO of Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.

The U.S. Census Bureau tracks population patterns and the U.S. Office of Management and Budget makes the call on whether to combine the two areas. The next planned review of U.S. metro areas is in 2018.

The department has a complicated formula that considers how much the Cincinnati and Dayton areas act like two separate regions and how much they act like one region with common relationships, merging populations and frequent commuting between the two metros.

Meyer was among speakers at a Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce event Tuesday morning which presented U.S. Census data showing how the two areas are growing more together.

If the area became one large metro, it would make the Cincinnati-Dayton metro area the 18th largest in the U.S., just behind San Diego.

RELATED: Dayton Development Coalition plans annnual economic overview

Those combined numbers matter when it comes to getting the attention of national firms that are site seeking for their next location. The location was a good fit to recruit the kind of tech talent SMITH needed, said CEO Tony Steel.

“There were many different choices, but quite honestly Austin Landing was probably the most consistent with our brand,” Steel said.

In the case of the bidding frenzy for Amazon’s second headquarters, the Seattle giant is looking for areas with a large population it can attract talent from and plenty of universities to recruit from.

If the Dayton and Cincinnati areas were measured together and behave as one region, that’s more potential employees and university grads that a company can recruit, which is a key criteria that Meyer said she hears when companies are looking for a location.

“It is talent, talent, talent. They need more. They need more than they are going to find in either one of our areas,” Meyer said.

RELATED: Company to build new Greater Cincinnati facility, add 1,100 jobs

Dave Dickerson, Dayton market president of Miller-Valentine Group, said recently that the companies his real estate firm works with are attracted to having a central location south of Dayton or north of Cincinnati that allows them recruit from both areas.

“Companies are making their decisions based on talent attraction,” he said.

A combined metro would come with benefits, but the possibility doesn’t come without some real concerns, including the region losing some of its individual identity or lose some of its media coverage if the media markets combined, said Phil Parker, president and CEO of the Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce.

“But are there some opportunities for workforce development, for business growth? I believe the answer is yes,” Parker said.

Meyer said the combined metro area shouldn’t mean Cincinnati and Dayton losing their individual identities, but getting more economic opportunities, including in bids for funding. She pointed to in 2014 when the two areas combined to get the federal designation of the Southwest Ohio & Northern Kentucky Aerospace Region to help get additional consideration when organizations in the region apply for federal grants.

LOCAL: Australian outbreak hints at bad Ohio flu season

“The way I look at it is we all gain opportunities to have more for our individual identities,” she said.

The shift in demographics is already happening. In Southwest Ohio, Montgomery County lost about 5,000 residents, or 1 percent of its population, since 2010.

At the same time, Warren County saw the biggest gains in the region, with its population growing 6.3 percent or by about 13,500 residents.

Couples are living in the middle with one commuting north and another commuting south, and businesses set up between the two cities so they can draw talent from either metro, making lines not as distinct as they were 20 years ago, said Meyer.

As the residents move to the middle of Dayton and Cincinnati, development in the center follows. There’s been a surge in construction in new shops, restaurants, doctors offices and homes in communities in the middle like Liberty Twp. and West Chester Twp.

LOCAL: Liberty Twp.’s 2018 focus on expanding its commercial footprint

Joe Hinson, president and CEO of the West Chester - Liberty Chamber Alliance, said from the chamber’s vantage point, the combining metro area is good both from attracting growth from regional employers, as well as putting the region on the map nationally.

Using the health care sector as an example, Hinson said West Chester and Liberty townships have had a rising number of hospitals expanding into the middle area to be where the residents are at. But its also important for the health care industry for the region to have appeal on a national scale to attract talent like surgeons who are searching nationally for where they want to work.

“We’re looking at ways to become more regional, less parochial. I think all those things bode well when your looking to attract and retain businesses to the area,” he said.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Business

Silfex begins hiring for up to 400 jobs in Springfield
Silfex begins hiring for up to 400 jobs in Springfield

A firm that has pledged to invest more than $220 million into Clark County has started hiring and will host a job fair next month. Silfex, based in Eaton, will host a job fair from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, April 21, at the OhioMeansJobs-Clark County office at 1345 Lagonda Ave. in Springfield. The company has pledged to create more than 400 jobs...
Portman challenges businesses to ‘step up’ as part of opioid fight
Portman challenges businesses to ‘step up’ as part of opioid fight

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman met with business leaders in Dayton Friday and challenged them to “step up even more” in the fight against opioids. ”I’m deeply concerned about where are our country is heading in terms of the opioid crisis, and all of the consequences,” Portman said in an appearance before the Dayton Area Chamber...
St. Patrick’s Day: Don’t drink and drive. Uber, AAA offer special deals
St. Patrick’s Day: Don’t drink and drive. Uber, AAA offer special deals

Thousands of Ohioans will head to their favorites pubs this weekend in celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, but officials have a warning for residents: “Don’t drink and drive.” From 2012 to 2016, 269 people were killed in drunk driving crashes during this holiday period, accounting for 38 percent of all crashes, according to the...
Jewelry store company expects to close 200 stores
Jewelry store company expects to close 200 stores

Signet Jewelers, parent of Zales, Kay Jewelers, Jared and other jewelry brands, expects to close more than 200 stores by the end of fiscal 2019. Signet will undertake a real estate review as part of a new three-year strategy plan to drive change and profitability within the company. The plan will save $85 million — $100 million is fiscal 2019...
Lima mulch company building Moraine location
Lima mulch company building Moraine location

A Lima, Ohio-based mulch company is building a retail and distribution site in Moraine. Wright Mulch has already laid the foundation for its new building just east of Dryden Road, near Heidelberg Distributing’s Moraine distribution center and south of the DMAX truck engine plant. MORE: Speedway parent CEO makes 935 times as much as his employees...
More Stories