Flight risks: The fight to retain Teradata and other companies

The Dayton Development Coalition tries to stay in touch with more than 600 companies in a 12-county area, coalition leaders told a forum audience Friday.

In doing so, coalition officers say they’ve learned to recognize signs of danger that a business may leave the Dayton region.

Among those signs: If a company’s chief executive no longer works in Dayton, that could be a warning. If local employees are being laid off, that’s a bad sign.

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The forum was held at the Hilton Garden Inn at Austin Landing — a stone’s throw from the Innovation Drive offices of Teradata, the data company that revealed in June it was moving to California, confirming long-held local suspicions.

“Teradata is right next door,” said Jeff Hoagland, coalition president and CEO. “It’s no secret that they’re moving to San Diego.”

The Dayton region has seen its share of companies leave or shrink their local presence — among them, NCR, General Motors, Robbins & Myers, Mead Paper and others.

When a company moves on, coalition leaders say they are often asked what they did to keep the company in town. “It’s a fair question,” said Julie Sullivan, the coalition’s executive vice president of regional development.

With Teradata, company leaders made what seemed to be a “business decision” to move administrative employees from the Miami Twp. location to what was the company’s true headquarters in San Diego, said State Rep. Niraj Antani, R-Miami Twp.

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“We’re always worried about different companies,” Antani said. “We want to make sure our company-partners are satisfied and performing well.”

Antani said his worries about Teradata intensified in January this year, when Teradata quietly laid about 40 employees off.

The state WARN (Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notice) threshold for notification of employee lay-offs is 50 for larger companies.

”Due to that, I convened a meeting with JobsOhio and the Dayton Development Coalition and some other folks in February this year to talk about my specific concerns around Teradata,” Antani said.

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In the end, Teradata CEO Victor Lund wrote an email to Antani referring him to Laura Nyquist, Teradata’s general counsel and arguably the company’s highest ranking Dayton-area officer.

“I told him, ‘I would be happy to meet with her, but I would still like to meet with you,’” Antani said. “He did not reply to that.”

Antani said he met with Nyquist. He asked her if there was any incentive or policy change that would keep Teradata in town.

“She said, ‘No,’” he said.

A Teradata spokeswoman Friday declined to make Nyquist — or any other company executive — available for an interview.

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Coalition leaders told listeners that most engagements with local businesses result in good news, with 75 percent of Dayton-area business growth coming from companies already here.

One recent victory for the area: The $182 million expansion of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC) at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which President Donald Trump signed into law Monday.

That operation has grown by about 100 employees a year every year for the past 15 years, Hoagland said. And the expansion will be huge.

“This is the largest military construction project that we’ve seen probably in the past 40 to 50 years,” he said.

Perhaps most importantly, the expansion of NASIC further emphasizes the base’s importance, not just to Dayton, but to the Air Force as a whole, he said. NASIC monitors threats to U.S. air and space operations.

“I don’t think this region should be afraid of another BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure)” round, Hoagland said.

So far this year in the coalition’s Western Ohio region, companies have committed to 1,025 new jobs and retaining 3,015 jobs, across 18 projects. That new payroll amounts to $48 million annually, with a planned capital investment of more than $242 million.

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