What’s great in Dayton?

What’s great in Dayton?

UpDayton’s 2014 Summit

By Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin

Photo: The 2014 UpDayton Summit begins at 2 p.m. on April 11; photo: Amanda Barbosa

UpDayton was conceived in 2007 as an initiative of the DaytonCREATE project, with a goal to encourage economic growth in the Miami Valley by attracting and retaining young professionals. The annual UpDayton Summit gives these creative minds an opportunity to have their ideas heard and supported by UpDayton and its community partner.

“We’re learning how to reinvent ourselves,” said UpDayton Executive Director Laura Estandia. “To grow the city, we have to work on keeping the next generation of citizens and leaders that can continue the legacy of this great city. Attracting and retaining young professionals contributes to a healthier economy, stable housing market and neighborhoods, and in turn, helps bring in new businesses looking to grow in a region that has an educated workforce.”

Daytonians can see the effects of UpDayton in projects all over the city. DaytonInterns.com, the mural on Wayne Avenue by Garden Station, and Dayton Most Metro were some of the earliest efforts. More recently, the 2013 Summit Livability Committee put out a map to aid in finding fresh food in Dayton.

“Dubbed the Dayton Food Finder, this map highlights fresh food, grocers and specialty food stores in a four-mile radius of the Downtown Dayton core,” said Estandia. “The map will continue to be available online and a print version of the map will be distributed to area neighborhoods.”

And the Livability Committee accomplished more. “The team recently completed an outreach campaign in partnership with Five Rivers MetroParks at 2nd Street Market,” Estandia said. “On March 13, they held a Community Supported Agriculture Fair and welcomed over 100 attendees to learn more about CSA options in our area.

More came out of the 2013 Summit to help retain young professionals. “Another project launched out of the 2013 Summit is part of UpDayton’s growing outreach to area college students through its Campus Catalyst program,” Estandia said. “Last year, a team of young professionals from the Summit ‘hired’ five student interns from the University of Dayton to serve as Campus Catalysts. The main job duty of these students is to invite their friends and peers to off-campus events planned by the catalysts and the committee. These events connect students to amenities and young professionals, demonstrating what it’s like to live, work and play in Dayton. The Summit will be the capstone event that students will get to participate in this semester. Moving forward, UpDayton hopes to expand the program to Wright State University and Sinclair Community College.

“UpDayton also recently launched the Open Dayton Business Competition with SCORE and Day Air Credit Union,” Estandia continued. “We are currently seeking applicants from now until April 25. Contestants will have the opportunity to gain exposure for their business idea and the opportunity to go through SCORE’s Simple Steps training for free during which contestants will receive help and guidance writing a business plan and writing a small business loan application. Businesses can be start-ups, expansions or recoveries, but they must operate in the Miami Valley to be eligible for the competition. Portions of the contest will be recorded for educational purposes.”

The keynote speaker for the 2014 Summit will be Cynthia Bowen, RW Armstrong’s Director of Planning and Urban Design and the Region 4 Representative on the board of the American Planning Association. “Cynthia Bowen will bring her experiences as an urban planner to the Summit, having worked on various projects in different cities,” Estandia said. “She was involved with Indianapolis’s cultural trail and has a project in the works for Dayton. She will be able speak to what it means to reinvent a city by design. She will be able to speak to several experiences where projects she has worked on originated with volunteers and how they grew to change the landscape of an urban environment. Her input about this kind of ‘placemaking’ will be a great influence as we move ahead with suggested projects related to one of our community partners, the Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission, who is interested in creating spaces valued by the community and embraced as a desired feature for young professionals.”

In this sixth year of holding their summit, the members of UpDayton attribute their ongoing success to their base of volunteers. “What has contributed to the organization’s success is the passion of our volunteers,” Estandia said. “UpDayton has a culture of active members who are ‘doers.’ They are creative problem solvers and visionaries with a ‘can do’ spirit! Volunteers are the backbone of the organization. Hands down. Another contribution to the organization’s sustainability is the community support. Leadership in our region has observed the actions our volunteers have taken and appreciate our efforts. Our sponsors have played an instrumental role in helping UpDayton and our volunteers continue our efforts to attract and retain young talent in Dayton.

“We love our region and we hope young adults see this city as their home,” Estandia said. “I also hope more community leaders see the positive impact we’re making and choose to join our efforts to attract and retain young talent. UpDayton is getting ready to launch an exciting new initiative called the Business Catalyst program that will give regional businesses tools to help them bring in and keep top, young talent, which will contribute to plugging the ‘brain drain’ throughout the region. Catch this important announcement at the UpDayton Summit on April 11!”

The UpDayton 2014 Summit will take place on Friday, April 11 from 2-6 p.m. at the Dayton Art Institute, 456 Belmonte Park N. The general event fee is $15, and the student event fee is $5 with ID. For more about UpDayton and to register for the 2014 Summit, please visit updayton.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin at JenniferHanauerLumpkin@DaytonCityPaper.com. To read more from Jennifer Hanauer Lumpkin, visit her website at jennerlumpkin.com.

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