Friday, August 1, 2008

Reynolds & Reynolds finally leaves Downtown; Blogs discuss

The expected announcment of I/T operation Reynolds and Reynolds moving its back-office stuff from the old Elder-Beerman building downtown caused quite a bit of talk at the two most active urban affairs sites here, most of it hand-wringing about the fate of downtown.

Esrati and his usual suspects repeated past discussions and arguments, though I liked Genes' straight talk.

Dayton Most Metro forum had a similar discussion, but more around economic development and business recruitment.

And a newer blog, It's Great 'n Dayton, had a more thoughtful post on this, questioning if downtown is in the plans of the organizations that are the real movers and shakers in the region.

I've commented at all three can link in and read what I had to not much more to add, except an emphasis that we are in worse position now than 8 years ago downtown.

1. Residential conversions have stalled

2. The last large business tenants have left

3. Spinoffs that could have located downtown moved to the suburbs.

4. Downtown did land one new business, and I think its signifigant that this was an out-of-town company deciding to locate in the center city.

These events damn the local business community. In other places (as close as Cincinnati, Columbus, and Louisville) elements of business leadership and local wealthy individuals are committed to downtown, but in Dayton they bail. I think there is no excuse for this, and it just damns them, no matter how much they donate to the ballet and opera and orchestra (and maybe we need more Brecht here, for that matter).

That it takes a company like Caresource, moving from Richmond VA, just damns the locals even more, since management at Caresource apparently doesn't have cultural baggage that the management of, say Reynolds and Reynolds, Woolper, NewPage, and Terradata must have. or they would have moved to suburbia too.

As for housing conversion stalling, well, I can understand that a bit more as this is driven by economics, and a weak economy and weak demand means a tougher sell for center city housing. Maybe Dayton can't support the kind of in-town living found elsewhere becaus it's just not big enough or economically healthy enough to do so.

But that still doesnt excuse the leading companys in this community from abandoning the city, especially if their firms are sucessfull and growing, especially since there are precedents in the region for leading firms to remain in downtown.

No excuses.

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