DAYTON, Ohio– After years of economic and population decline, the city of Dayton said they’re starting to see a rebound. 

To showcase recent improvements to the city, Dayton held Gem City Rising in Downtown. Dayton welcomed national, regional, and local real estate investors and developers to showcase their recent and future developments to illustrate the city’s momentum.

Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley was hopeful the day-long summit would continue to propel Dayton toward a bounce back after years of disinvestment. 

“I think what we’re trying to show today is that we have sites ready to go,” Whaley said. “Job-ready sites that can really make an impact in areas that have had significant disinvestment. When you have the city and the community that’s been working on that and have the community aligned about that, so you’re not doing something to a community, you’re doing it with a community. That’s something we’ve really worked hard to grow and thrive. So now, we’re just looking for that investment. That’s the last piece of the puzzle.”

The city said Dayton has already seen more than one billion dollars worth of investment in the urban core of the city since 2010. 

And with the Gem City Rising summit highlights those improvements downtown, the city is hopeful that new business commitments can help bring people back to the gem city. 

“You also have a feeling and a picture of momentum in your downtown, Rick Jacobs of Accelerator for America said. “So, 210 million dollars in project underway right now, All of that plus incentives, plus opportunity zones, I think the prospects are enormous.” 

Bruce Katz of Drexel University said Dayton’s foundation is strong, and that’s a huge reason why the city is on the upward trend.

“Dayton has the University of Dayton; you have Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, you have an innovation platform that is highly unique and highly distinctive,” Katz said. “That’s part of what’s going to fuel the rebound.” 

Mayor Whaley hopes people and businesses will invest because the city is gritty. 

“I love that word,” she said. “You need grit to get things done, to move. You know, everything in life isn’t easy, but to have that gritty kind of resilience is a personality trait in this community that I think helps it grow, and helps you grow as a person as well. That’s what kind of community this is, and it attracts those kinds of folks. It attracts people that value the benefit of hard work, but value that if you play by the rules, you should get ahead. That’s the kind of city we are, that’s the kind of community we are, and that’s the kind of people we attract.”

The day-long summit was held at the Dayton Metropolitan Library on East Third.