About 1,200 jobs in logistics and distribution have been created in the Dayton area in the last five years, and that was without any concerted effort to get those jobs.
So, how many distribution and logistical jobs might be added if they received laser-like focus? That’s what the Dayton Development Coalition, Miami and Montgomery counties, the cities of Dayton, Vandalia, Tipp City and others want to find out.
Those entities have applied for Montgomery County Economic Development/Government Equity (ED/GE) funds to explore logistics and distribution market segments, identify distribution companies that might be recruited to the area around the interchange of Interstates 70 and 75 and improve infrastructure where necessary.
Someone would be hired to oversee much of this full-time, say those involved.
With another $75,000 from the state’s public-private development arm, JobsOhio, the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District would use the funds to hire a contract employee for 12 to 15 months for the project, according to the ED/GE application.
ED/GE applications ask those applying for funds how many jobs a proposed project could create. This particular application presents an enticing number: 1,000 jobs.
The idea of creating 1,000 new jobs is just that — an idea. Joe Tuss, Montgomery County assistant administrator, and others cautioned that those jobs are not waiting to be placed in the region. Instead, the number can be seen as an educated guess based on what has already been achieved.
“Some of this is obviously guesswork,” said Steve Stanley, executive director of the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District. “I just took a look at the some of the success the country has already had.”
That success includes Caterpillar Logistics, Collective Brands (Payless Shoe Source), Syncreon, Carter Logistics and other big companies that had built or placed distribution hubs near the I-70 and I-75 interchange.
Besides hiring a new employee, funds would be used to buy data and analysis from PIERS, a Newark, N.J.-based freight industry organization with “comprehensive shipping data for more than 5,000 bills of lading records annually,” the ED/GE application said.
PIERS describes itself as the “standard in trade intelligence.” Dayton-area entities paying for the ED/GE study would use PIERS vessel manifests (lists identifying what is being carried in ships and trucks) and other shipping data to zero in on what the region needs to be more competitive.
PIERS is a membership organization in which members are able to tap into large databases on trade within and outside the United States. With “real targeted searchers,” the hope is that companies that might be good candidates for a move to the Dayton area can be found, Stanley said.
“What we really want to do is not take a shotgun approach here,” he said. “It would be really knowing who would present the best opportunity to recruit.”
The ED/GE bid is an attempt to be “proactive,” to take advantage of the fact that two well-traveled interstates meet less than 10 minutes north of downtown Dayton, said Scott Koorndyk, Dayton Development Coalition executive vice president for economic development and operations.
“It is not controversial at all to say that we need to do a better job than we have at marketing the assets we have,” Koorndyk said.
“The DDC, county and local communities have identified logistics as one of the business sectors we want to attract,” said Rob Anderson, Vandalia city manager. “If anything, this is an extension of the region’s ongoing efforts to recruit and retain these types of companies to our area.”
Koorndyk pointed to the kinds of employers that have already been drawn to the region in this arena. Those projects are notable for how many people they employ, he said. Caterpillar Logistics, for example, will have about 600 employees in Clayton when its Hoke Road facility is fully operational. The combined annual payroll for just Caterpillar, Syncreon and Collective Brands locally is estimated at more than $37 million, according to the ED/GE application.
“These are not two or three jobs at a time — these are 200 or 300 jobs at a time,” Koorndyk said.
As much as those existing logistics jobs are valued, development leaders wonder if more can be done.
“Truthfully the idea is, can we do even better.” Stanley said.