This article was originally published on Feb. 25
Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley addressed the city of Dayton in her sixth annual State of the City speech on Feb. 13. Whaley covered a number of issues facing the Dayton community in her 20-minute address and committed herself to several causes for the duration of her term.
She began her speech by pointing out that, historically, Dayton has done an inadequate job of providing opportunities to all its citizens.
“As we determine where to go from here, it’s important to acknowledge that history and examine how it continues to impact us today,” Whaley said.
She went on to discuss improvements in education in Dayton. Whaley’s “City of Learners” initiative is entering its sixth year and continues to support youth education through a partnership with Dayton Public Schools. She also pointed out that over the past seven years, the number of adults with at least an associate degree has grown. In addition, kindergarten readiness has improved, thanks in part to the taxpayer-funded Preschool Promise.
Whaley pivoted to discuss the growing opportunities for business in Dayton. The Entrepreneurs Center, a Dayton-based organization that supports small business owners, has helped 81 companies get their start. These organizations have created 164 jobs in the area since 2017. Whaley also praised the Minority Business Assistance Center for its work with business owners, creating 136 new jobs.
The next topic Whaley covered was the ongoing opioid crisis in Dayton. She pointed to signs of improvement the city has shown in the last year.
“Due in part to the great work of leaders from across our community, overdose deaths fell by almost fifty percent from 2017 to 2018”, Whaley said. “But even one death is still too many.”
She applauded the progress created so far by local organizations and law enforcement but urged for more to be done.
“I want Dayton to be known as the place that figured out how to move past the stigma of addiction and instead treat it like the disease that it is,” Whaley said.
The last section of Whaley’s speech focused on development projects occurring in Dayton neighborhoods. This included the addition of the Levitt Pavilion and the almost-completed Dayton Arcade. Other redevelopment plans Whaley mentioned centered around West Dayton and included ideas such as new neighborhoods, a branch of the Dayton Metro Library and a museum.
Whaley concluded by promising that she and city officials would work to “identify and dismantle systems that keep people trapped in poverty.” Some actionable steps she hopes to take include reducing the rate of evictions in the city, reevaluating how parking violations are handled and finding ways to attract more investment in Dayton neighborhoods.
Whaley admitted her goals may appear lofty. However, she feels strongly about making Dayton a place of equal opportunity for all its citizens and is excited for the future.
“We are committed to doing what we can to ensure all of our neighbors have the opportunity to take part in Dayton’s resurgence,” Whaley said.“I am ready to get to work to meet this commitment. I ask you to join me.”
For a full transcript of Whaley’s speech, click here.