Housing, worker retention a challenge in Clark County, leaders say


Springfield has seen new investment and is making strides to improve the local workforce, but continues to face challenges like a lack of available housing and too few opportunities for younger workers, local business and government leaders said at a recent forum.

The Chamber of Greater Springfield hosted a two-hour discussion about the challenges and opportunities facing the city during a meeting with staff from the Greater Ohio Policy Center last week. The policy center is a nonprofit that advocates for urban communities in the state but has increasingly focused attention on smaller cities like Springfield, Lima and Sandusky in recent years.

RELATED: Springfield’s biggest employer picks new leader

Much of the discussion focused on a lack of available new housing inventory local leaders said is needed to stabilize neighborhoods and attract younger workers to live in Clark County.

Springfield has seen investment downtown in recent years, including a new hospital, a brewery, an ice arena and more small businesses, said Mike McDorman, president and CEO of the Chamber of Greater Springfield. But the county’s housing stock is older and it’s been difficult to encourage investment in new developments.

MORE BUSINESS NEWS: Urbana building awarded historic tax credits

“There are affordable houses here but they’re not the kind of houses they want,” McDorman said of younger workers. “They’re not looking for a fixer-upper. They’re not looking for a big yard.”

Staff at Greater Ohio began looking more closely at smaller and mid-sized cities like Springfield after noticing the number of people participating in the workforce was growing in places like Cincinnati and Cleveland, even during the recent recession, said Torey Hollingsworth, manager of research and policy for Greater Ohio. But that wasn’t the case in mid-sized and smaller cities.

READ MORE: Clark State expands tuition discount for military families

“That really opened this question of why was that happening,” she said. “What was it that Cleveland and Cincinnati were able to do that wasn’t happening in the other cities?”

Hollingsworth also noted their research showed small and mid-sized cities in Ohio seemed to to fare worse economically than similar cities in other states.

Springfield has had some success attracting younger workers in industries like education and health care, said David Estrop, a retired Springfield City Schools superintendent who’s now running for Springfield City Commission. The challenge, he said at the forum, is keeping them here.

MORE: Ohio to play key role in driverless cars, transportation research

“Unfortunately we’ve become a training ground for people in education and our safety forces,” Estrop said. “A lot of them go to other places that pay more or have more amenities.”

Several business leaders said at the forum that cities like Springfield are often at a disadvantage when competing with larger cities for everything from attracting new investment to seeking tax credits or funding to rehabilitate infrastructure.

“We always seem to be right on the cusp and then something happens to keep pulling us back,” said Jim Lagos, a local attorney and chairman of the chamber board.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Business

Recall Roundup: Hair dryers, blending containers and more
Recall Roundup: Hair dryers, blending containers and more

Dangerous hair dryers and blender cups are among the new recalls announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.  Xtava is recalling nearly a quarter of a million Allure and Allure Pro hair dryers after 18 people reported burns — one case was severe — and two people reported a mild electrical shock. There are 193 reports of the...
Ohio job growth pace finally beats nation’s
Ohio job growth pace finally beats nation’s

Ohio employers are hiring, with the state’s pace of job growth is finally matching and even exceeding the national pace. Ohio’s unemployment rate was 4.6 percent in July 2018, up from 4.5 percent in June, the state reported Friday. But the state’s non-agricultural wage and salary employment increased 7,600 over the month, from a revised...
Dayton-area firms pull in millions in new defense work
Dayton-area firms pull in millions in new defense work

Several area companies have landed millions in new Department of Defense and federal contract awards. RDC/John Poe Architects in Miamisburg claimed a $5,332,055 federal contract from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs for architectural and engineering services at the Ann Arbor Health Care System. G.E. Aviation Systems in Vandalia won a $577,920...
After tax cut, Ohio utilities fight PUCO to maintain rates
After tax cut, Ohio utilities fight PUCO to maintain rates

Ohio electric utilities and state regulators are still butting heads over whether the utilities should pass on savings from last year’s tax cut to their customers. Late last year, the U.S. government lowered the federal tax rate for corporations from 35 to 21 percent. In a filing this week with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO),...
In the UAS/UAV race, China is beating the U.S.
In the UAS/UAV race, China is beating the U.S.

While the Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) market is on a strong growth track — nationally and here in Dayton — there are still concerns and challenges. One concern: China is well ahead of the United States in the production of unmanned aerial vehicles and in building a supply chain of components for those vehicles, including motors. &ldquo...
More Stories