One of our region’s greatest growth hotspots is along the northern Montgomery County and Miami County borderline adjacent to U.S. Route 40. This important east/west travel lane, known to many of us here in Ohio as the National Road, was created by Congress in 1806 and signed into law by President Thomas Jefferson.
From the beginning, long before the interstate routes of 70 or 80, this was one of the most important connectors of people and products from the Atlantic seaboard to the Midwest farm belt. That importance remains today.
The Dayton and Miami Valley region has certainly seen seismic economic shifts in our history, especially since the late 60s and early 70s as the growth in the U.S. turned south towards the Sunbelt. But as of late, we have seen new growth in our downtown core and in suburban hot spots. Two such spots are along the Montgomery and Warren county line to our south; but also along the north as noted before at the Montgomery and Miami county line.
Much of the growth north has been driven by the proximity to the airport, but also because Route 40 is so close to the Crossroads of America at the intersection of I-70 and I-75. Businesses, especially those in logistics and manufacturing industries, have awoken to the fact that not only is our marketplace close to a majority of America’s population, but our location gives businesses the competitive advantages of shipping by truck, rail and air. This advantage has spurred the growth of numerous new companies over the last 5-6 years in this part of our region with the clear opportunity of more growth in businesses and jobs in the future.
Just in the past few years, we have seen more than 2,300 new jobs in this area along or near Route 40 in more than 4.9 million square feet of space housing manufacturers and distribution services. This growth of jobs has been important to the people of our region … our families and neighbors … with the idea that more will be coming our way.
One of the challenges we must continue to contend with is how we update our infrastructure along that corridor. The Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce has long been a champion of our infrastructure needs in the region, including Route 40 as it parallels I-70 and provides access to available space near the airport and 70/75. Recently, the Montgomery County Transportation Improvement District, an organization spawned out of the chamber, has continued to work with local jurisdictions like Vandalia, Union, Dayton, Montgomery County, the state and others to ensure we have the proper funding to expand and enhance this roadway not just to support those already established companies and jobs, but to make sure we continue to allow for the possibilities for others to seek employment and entrepreneurial opportunities. The chamber works every day with state and local elected and appointed officials to make certain our needs, like Route 40 and others, are prioritized and funded.
I commend our public sector on its vision, intellect and energy to continue the push for new jobs in our region, especially in an area that most of our citizens don’t regularly see or notice in their daily lives. However, we know this is a dynamic area in our region that has even greater potential for a positive economic impact for all of us. Route 40 and its surrounding area is vital to our region’s economic future and we must continue to support and prioritize its development.
Phillip L. Parker, CAE, CCE
President and CEO
Dayton Area Chamber of Commerce