Photo by Joe Weitz: “Went to Oregon District tonight during my Leadership Ohio visit to Dayton. Flowers covering bullet holes in glass. Hard stuff to see but necessary.”
Dayton made international headlines by being a city determined to move forward after processing their recent, devastating loss of 9 innocent people. It was another mass shooting in America - second in 24 hours, actually - this one focused on a trendy bar district. So, to have Dayton as the next city our Leadership Ohio class would visit in August, I felt an irreverent excitement as I realized our class was morphing into a Leadership America class... and we were heading directly into a media hot spot where tempered leadership is absolutely critical. Going in, Mayor Nan Whaley, has been an ever-present fixture on America’s newsfeed, and her resilience and ability to bring all sides together through this tragedy, has been widely noted.
I was in Dayton (on other business) just a day before shots rang out in the Oregon District. So, this tragedy got very real, and very personal for me because my kids’ dad missed potentially getting shot at by one day. Thus, coming right back to Dayton, I was unsure of how I might feel. I was quite comforted to find a city that manufactures strength as their primary industry.
The Entrepreneurs Center is one of the best run organizations for incubating researched ideas into startup companies, that I have ever seen. We learned about all the innovations happening due to the close relationship TEC has with Wright-Patterson Air Force base, like Battle Sight Technologies. Battle Sight makes visual tools for the frontline warfighter, and they are working with TEC on developing commercial applications. I started feeling Dayton Strong.
That feeling kept going at the base, a standing example of power and strength. In addition to being a fully operational military base, “Wright-Patt” has some of the highest-tech innovations on the planet, specifically into space and cyber space, where the future battles lie. Wright-Patt epitomizes strength, and it powers this city, so it would make perfect sense that smart companies would emerge, like Battle Sight, or Persistent Surveillance Systems, co-founded by LO Board Member, Dr. Ross McNutt.
Yet, I truly felt the strength of Dayton when I visited the Oregon District with some classmates, off the clock. We experienced crowds of grieving people coming together again, recognizing the horrors of just two weeks prior, but realizing more that their unity and participation in moving forward is actually their strength. I came to realize what I was feeling was Dayton’s inherent strength; Its in their DNA. It is a DNA woven deep into this community, and whether it is Nan Whaley showcasing it on the national stage, or the bartender at Ned Peppers showing me her new staff solidarity tattoo...this city exudes real strength - and real strong women!
Bottom line: #DaytonStrong isn’t some catchy PR stunt that’s up and gone in 6 months...it’s Dayton’s brand. You can actually feel it, and in my humble opinion, brands built on substance, endure.
By: Ian Schwarber, Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President, Centerlink Technologies; LO Class of 2019