I’ve noticed with all of the news articles, opinion pieces and various commentary – everybody refers to this as “NCR relocating to Atlanta”. Atlanta this, Atlanta that. Yes, there is a lesson to be learned here for Dayton and it is exactly what I wrote about in my previous post – the need for the entire Dayton region to once and for all give up on all the parochialistic attitudes and come together a one single region – first in attitude, but ultimately in organization and government.
NCR is not moving to Atlanta; its new headquarters will be in Duluth, GA which is not only 30 miles away from the city of Atlanta, it is in a different county (Gwinnett). NCR had already moved customer service operations to Peachtree, GA – 35 miles southwest of Atlanta in yet another county. Additionally, Georgia is building a brand new manufacturing facility for NCR that will employ 870 people in Columbus, GA – which is over 100 miles away from Atlanta and actually closer to Montgomery, AL. But despite these distances from the center city, the story is “NCR Moves to Atlanta.”
Distance-wise, this would roughly be the equivalent of a corporation locating its headquarters in Springfield, OH, moving its customer service office to Mason, OH and opening a manufacturing plant in Findlay, OH (with commute times being much longer in GA). But given this Ohio equivalent example, does anybody think that this would be called a win for Dayton, Ohio? Does anybody think that the name “Dayton” would even be mentioned?
Granted, it is unfair to compare Georgia to Ohio since Georgia truly has one single major city that everything else revolves around while Ohio has several large and medium-sized urban centers that are relatively close to one another. Not to mention that Atlanta is the largest metro region in the entire southeast and dwarfs Ohio’s largest metro regions, let alone smaller Dayton… we may be talking apples to oranges (or apples to peaches as the case may be). But Atlanta-proper is actually not that big – if Montgomery County, Ohio was a single city it would in fact be bigger than Atlanta in terms of population.
My point is that there is much power in having a unified region, where everybody identifies themselves as Dayton – regardless of whether you are in Centerville, Oakwood, or even in a different county like Beavercreek. While our little fiefdoms are fighting amongst themselves (see Centerville vs Washington Township, Dayton vs Beavercreek, etc.) as we shuffle businesses and residents around the same region and call that economic development, regions like Atlanta are busy competing against Chicago, New York and other global cities. That is, when they’re not sucking businesses away from smaller and weaker cities like Dayton.
We may be a long way off from UniGov – the politics, current power structures and general attitude of the population make that nothing more than a pipe dream today. But we must be making transformational changes as a region that move us in that direction; ultimately we will have to start looking at ourselves as the Cincinnati/Dayton/Columbus region if we are to ever compete globally. Local leaders are beginning to discuss this more – if you want to participate in the discussion or hear more about the ideas currently being discussed, attend the Economic Development Forum – Montgomery County event being hosted by the Dayton Business Journal on Tuesday June 23, 2009 at Sinclair Community College (click the link for registration details). Or, join the on-going discussions on this topic right here on the DaytonMostMetro.com Forum, under Regionalism.