Symbolic, perhaps, of the end of Dayton's 20th century "company town" era. The final shutdown of Moraine Assembly was, too. NCR and GM, via Delco, later Delphi, dominated Dayton by their sheer scale and, in the case of NCR, the domineering figure of John Patterson.
Maybe not such a healthy thing, even though it brought a lot of jobs here in the 20th century.
Those jobs started to disappear in a very big way with the NCR manufacturing shutdown of the early 1970s, where up to 20,0oo jobs were eliminated. That was the start of 30 years of industrial shrinkage. NCR was the first mover, kicking off the era of decline, and now it's finally leaving for good.
It's tough to put lipstick on this pig.
One can say that its only 1,300 jobs. But these were fairly well-paying jobs that contributed city income tax to a cash-stripped municiple govenemnt. The larger impact was NCRs contribution to arts an charities, where the hurt will be felt by people without any connections to NCR and who don't live in the city. The DDN reports that NCR was the top contributor to the CultureWorks fundraising campaign for performing arts organizations. This is a big hit since the performing arts in this city hurting (witness the impending demise of the Dayton Ballet).
There is a lot of speculation why as well as the official story. These are all available by reading the Dayton Daily News or Atlanta Journal-Constition sites, or the local Buisness Journal sites.
It was probably not just the $60M offered by Georgia, though. The basic argument of lower taxes, lower personell costs, and a larger labor pool and air connections probably were deciders.
Executive Level Economic Development
One can read the various comments at the DDN site and Dayton Most Metro and Esrati and pick up how its all Rhine McLins fault. If one reads how this deal went down one notes the mayors of Atlanta, Duluth, Peachtree City, and the county officials for Gwinnett County (Duluth) were not involved. This was a deal done by the Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue and his economic develoment staff working directly with NCR CEO Nutti and his people. Local governements were apparently out of the picture.
The equivilant thing in Ohio would have been for Strickland to make this a priority working directly with NCR. No evidence this was happening and it might not have made a difference if Strickland did try something if Nuttis' mind was made up.
We are finally seeing the end of chapter in the economic life of Dayton. One constant in the economic history of this city is the constant reinvention of the local economy, almost a textbook case of Schumpeters creative destruction played out over time in a regional economy. Looking at the larger firms left here, only one, Reynolds & Reynolds, goes back to the 19th century. The other large IT firm, Lexis-Nexis, started as spinoff from R&D related to defense logistics and IT.
Interestingly enough this feature of local economic history was noted by a socialist, Joseph F. Sharts, in his Biography of Dayton. Sharts tells how entire industries rose and then faded away due to changes in the underlying economic forces. A process that is playing out into our time.
So we are closing the book on an era, which is now properly the subject of history.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009