The Economy of Dayton, Ohio

An Overview of the Major Industries, Employers, and Economic Drivers in the Dayton Area

Dayton, Ohio is located in southwest Ohio and is the county seat of Montgomery County. With a population of around 140,000 residents, Dayton is the sixth largest city in Ohio.

While perhaps best known as the hometown of the Wright brothers and the birthplace of aviation, Dayton has a diverse and robust economy.

Some of the major industries, top employers, and economic drivers in Dayton include:

Aerospace and Aviation

As the home of aviation pioneers Wilbur and Orville Wright, it is no surprise that aerospace and aviation are central to Dayton’s economy. Some major employers in this sector include:

  • Wright-Patterson Air Force Base: The largest single-site employer in Ohio with over 27,000 civilian employees. It is home to the Air Force Research Laboratory and the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.
  • GE Aviation: A leading global provider of jet engines and integrated digital systems. GE Aviation’s EPISCENTER located in Dayton is a leading center for GE aviation systems research, IT and operations.
  • Northrop Grumman: Aerospace and defense company that provides cyber services, logistics, and sensors for defense applications.
  • BAE Systems: Global defense and security company that manufactures electronic systems for aviation and other military uses.
  • StandardAero: Provides maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services for business and general aviation jet engines and engine accessories.

Advanced Manufacturing

In addition to aerospace and aviation, Dayton has a strong advanced manufacturing sector involved in automotive, aerospace, and other high-tech manufacturing. Major employers include:

  • Delphi Technologies: Global provider of advanced vehicle propulsion systems and components for automotive and commercial vehicles.
  • GE Aviation: Manufactures jet engines and components in addition to avionics (see above).
  • Fuyao Glass America: Produces automotive glass for major auto manufacturers from a former GM plant.
  • Midmark: Leading provider of medical, dental and veterinary equipment including exam tables, cabinets, and digital diagnostic products.


As the home to several major hospital systems, healthcare is another vital part of Dayton’s economy. Top employers include:

  • Premier Health Partners: Operates several major hospitals and health facilities including Miami Valley Hospital, Atrium Medical Center, and Upper Valley Medical Center. Employs over 14,000 people.
  • Kettering Health Network: Operates Kettering Medical Center along with several other hospitals and medical centers in the Dayton area. Employs around 9,300 people.
  • Dayton Children’s Hospital: Major pediatric hospital and research center that employs over 5,500 people.
  • Dayton VA Medical Center: Provides healthcare services to veterans in the region. Employs over 2,000 people.

Research and Technology

Several major research centers and technology companies are located in the Dayton area including:

  • University of Dayton Research Institute (UDRI): Applied research arm of the University of Dayton focused on fields like advanced materials, aerospace, and energy. Employs over 1,500 researchers and support staff.
  • Wright Patterson Air Force Base: In addition to its operational mission, Wright-Patt is home to major R&D operations including the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL).
  • Emerson: Global technology and engineering company with a major facility in Dayton focused on defense technology and automation.
  • LexisNexis: Provider of data and analytics solutions for legal, government, law enforcement, and corporate clients. Operates a major R&D center in Dayton.

Supply Chain and Logistics

Dayton’s location at the crossroads of I-70 and I-75 make it a strategic hub for supply chain and logistics operations. Major companies include:

  • Crane Supply: Major industrial distributor with a 300,000 square foot distribution center in Dayton.
  • Midmark: In addition to manufacturing, Midmark operates a major distribution center in Dayton (see Manufacturing section).
  • Standard Register: Provides supply chain management including warehousing, fulfillment, and print/mail services.

Business and Financial Services

As a mid-sized metro area, Dayton has a robust sector focused on business and financial services including:

  • LexisNexis: In addition to R&D, operates major legal and risk management service centers in Dayton (see Research and Technology section).
  • Fifth Third Bank: Regional bank headquartered in Cincinnati with major operations and employment in Dayton.
  • Sebaly, Shillito + Dyer: Major Dayton-based CPA and business advisory firm.
  • CareSource: National health insurance company focused on managed Medicaid plans. Headquartered in Dayton.

Key Industries and Trends Shaping Dayton’s Economy

Several key industries and economic trends are shaping the direction of Dayton’s economy and opportunities for future growth.

Aerospace and Defense

Dayton’s aerospace and defense sectors will continue to be central to the region’s economy. However, industry consolidation and technology changes will impact the market landscape. Growth opportunities exist in areas like:

  • Unmanned aerial systems and autonomy technologies
  • Advanced avionics, sensors, and communications for aerospace and defense
  • Cybersecurity and information technology applied to aerospace systems
  • Supply chain optimization and logistics for defense contracting

Advanced Manufacturing

While still vital to the economy, Dayton’s traditional manufacturing base has declined over the past several decades. However, opportunities exist in advanced manufacturing techniques:

  • Additive manufacturing and 3D printing
  • Automation, robotics, and IoT technology applied to manufacturing
  • High-value specialized manufacturing in emerging fields like nanotechnology, alternative energy, and electronics


Dayton’s major hospital systems, research centers, and universities with medical schools provide a strong foundation. Growth opportunities include:

  • Biotechnology and pharmaceutical manufacturing
  • Medical devices and technology
  • Data analytics and AI applied to healthcare administration and clinical care
  • Population health and wellness services for an aging population

Technology and Innovation

Dayton has strong technology and research assets including Wright-Patt Air Force Base and major university R&D programs. Areas of potential growth include:

  • Autonomy, robotics, AI, machine learning, and data analytics
  • Cloud computing, cybersecurity, networks and communications technology
  • Digital visualization, simulation and immersive technologies like augmented and virtual reality
  • Sensors, electronics, nanomaterials, and advanced energy research

Infrastructure to Support Business in Dayton

Dayton has a robust infrastructure to support continued business growth and investment. Elements include:

Transportation Infrastructure

  • Highway Access: Dayton’s location at the intersection of two major interstates (I-70 and I-75) provides convenient highway access.
  • Air Travel: Dayton International Airport provides direct flights to major hubs and business travel destinations.
  • Rail and Freight: Dayton is served by CSX rail lines and intermodal freight terminals.

Educational Institutions

  • University of Dayton: Major private research university with leading programs in engineering, business, and sciences.
  • Wright State University: Large public university with noted programs in medical school, aerospace, and healthcare fields.
  • Sinclair Community College: Provides workforce development and certificate programs aligned with local business needs.

Business Incubators and Accelerators

  • The Entrepreneurs Center: Provides co-working space, accelerator programs, and links to capital for local startups.
  • Dayton Arcade Innovation Hub: New hub focused on creating collaboration space for entrepreneurs in a landmark historic building downtown.
  • Ohio Federal Research Network: Program that connects businesses with advanced technology expertise and facilities at Wright-Patt Air Force Base.

Business Incentives and Financing

  • Dayton Region Priority Development and Advantage Funds: Offer financing incentives like tax credits, grants, and low-cost loans for job creation and investment by businesses.
  • Research and Development Tax Credit: Ohio offers one of the most generous R&D tax credits in the nation to support technology innovation.
  • Job Creation Tax Credit: Provides a tax credit against Ohio income tax for companies creating new jobs in the state.

Major Recent Economic Development Projects

Several major economic development projects in recent years will shape Dayton’s business future. These include:

GE Aviation EPISCenter

In 2017, GE Aviation opened a $51 million EPISCenter complex to serve as its Electrical Power Integrated Systems research, development and testing center.

It has capacity for up to 200 engineers and technicians working on next-generation aerospace electrical systems.

Emerson Helix Innovation Center

In 2018 Emerson opened this $35 million center focused on automation technologies for advanced manufacturing. It provides hands-on learning for customers and employees.

Central State University Marriott at Wilberforce

In 2018, Central State University and Marriott opened a new Renaissance Hotel in Wilberforce, OH. The $15 million hotel provides lodging and conference facilities while offering hands-on training in hospitality management for students.

University of Dayton River Campus

In 2019, the University of Dayton opened the $17 million River Campus located on the Great Miami River. It serves as an alumni center, continuing education facility, and venue for community events.

Dayton Arcade Redevelopment

A major community revitalization project is underway to redevelop the historic Dayton Arcade complex in downtown Dayton into a hub for retail, commercial and residential space. The project has a total development cost of around $90 million.

Link Dayton Bike Share

In 2016, the City of Dayton launched Link Dayton Bike Share to promote bicycle transportation. With over 30 stations and 230 bikes, it provides a sustainable transportation option.

Downtown Dayton Revitalization

In addition to the Dayton Arcade project, downtown Dayton has seen over $400 million in investment in recent years to rehab historic buildings into new residential, retail, and commercial spaces.

Tech Town Development

Tech Town is a urban revitalization initiative focused on attracting technology companies and startups to the downtown area by repurposing underutilized buildings with modern amenities.

Dayton International Airport Upgrades

The Dayton International Airport recently completed over $20 million in upgrades including a new passenger terminal, parking garage, and deicing facilities to support growth in air travel demand.

I-75 Reconstruction and Expansion

Sections of I-75 running through downtown Dayton are being reconstructed and expanded from 4 to 6 lanes to improve this vital transportation artery. The $174 million project will complete in 2024.

Conclusion: The Outlook for Dayton’s Economy

While it has faced challenges with the decline of traditional manufacturing, Dayton has pivoted towards advanced industries like aerospace, healthcare, and technology.

The area’s prime location, excellent transportation infrastructure, talented workforce, and business incentives make it an attractive location for continued investment and growth. Key advantages that will bolster Dayton’s economic future include:

  • World-class aviation and aerospace research facilities centered around Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
  • Leading healthcare institutions investing in the region’s assets for biotech and medical innovation.
  • Revitalization of downtown Dayton to attract and retain young professionals.
  • Academic excellence in technology fields from the University of Dayton, Wright State, and other regional schools.
  • Strong history of advanced manufacturing providing a skilled workforce and capabilities.
  • Collaborative ecosystem linking startups with corporate R&D centers like GE Aviation’s EPISCenter.

With its competitive advantages and economic development initiatives, Dayton is poised for continued growth and prosperity in the coming decades.

The area provides a solid foundation for established companies and startups alike seeking strategic opportunities in Ohio and the Midwest.

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  • Start out going east on E 3rd St toward S Patterson Blvd in downtown Dayton. Turn right to merge onto S Patterson Blvd. Take I-75 N ramp on the left to Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive for about 5 miles. Take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave toward N Fairfield Rd. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. The destination will be on the right.
  • Begin at Riverscape MetroPark in downtown Dayton and head north on S Patterson Blvd. Take the I-75 N ramp on the left toward Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive approximately 5 miles. Use the right 2 lanes to take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. Continue on Siebenthaler Ave for half a mile and the destination will be on your right.
  • Start at the Dayton Art Institute in downtown Dayton. Head east on E Monument Ave toward S Patterson Blvd. Turn right onto S Patterson Blvd. Take the I-75 N ramp on the left to Cincinnati. Merge onto I-75 N and drive for 5 miles. Take exit 50A for Siebenthaler Ave toward N Fairfield Rd. Turn left onto Siebenthaler Ave. 117 E Siebenthaler Ave will be on the right just past Danner Ave.