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Dayton-area business leaders, economists, and city officials remain cautiously optimistic about the economy

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Dayton Daily News reporter Lynn Hulsey takes a deep dive into the economic outlook of the Miami Valley.

In a recent series of reports for the Dayton Daily News, Reporter, Lynn Hulsey spoke with dozens of stakeholders in business, manufacturing and real estate industries about their economic outlooks for the Dayton region in the year ahead. She told us what they had to say.

Lynn Hulsey: Well, overall, I would say the feeling is of cautious optimism about the economy. I interviewed a dozen people from a broad array of sectors, industrial sectors, real estate, construction, development folks, people in government, the finance world, businesses, and generally, I think there's a feeling that there's going to be a recession most likely in 2023. Obviously, people are hopeful that there won't be one. David Melin is the PNC regional president for Dayton, and their economists are predicting a mild recession in the latter half of 2023.

The Nationwide insurance economist also is saying that they anticipate a moderate recession. And the other thing that, of course, remains a problem is inflation has taken a real bite out of pocketbooks. But the good news on inflation is for the last several months, it appears to be moderating. I mean, it appears to be on track to start easing.

Jerry Kenney: What about the area of real estate?

LH: So, the housing market itself has gone from that sort of a frenzied thing that we all saw where people were putting their house on the market and like 5 minutes later it sold, which might be a slight exaggeration, but only slight. And they were selling for a really high price. This is back when the interest rates were extremely low. Now, with interest rates up, they're still lower than the 50-year average, but they're up about double what they were in the heyday of 2020, 2021 period. And so, the housing sales have declined, the total sales, but the housing prices have still gone up.

So, the head of the Dayton Realtors, Greg Blatt, said that is related to supply and demand. There's just still not enough houses to meet the demand. And he and Dave Dickerson, who is with Miller Valentine, they both they both addressed the issue of housing that people can afford. They both said there's not enough of it. Certainly, in our region, the median price of a house is much lower than it is in, even in some bigger Ohio cities, but certainly over on the coasts and such.

So, the region is overall more affordable. But to get people to move here, we need to have places for them to live. One of the things that Greg Blatt talked about is, as far as the zoning issues and people being, you know, neighbors, when a proposed development is, and someone proposes a development and it might have less or be a more dense development or be houses that aren't super expensive, he said, 'sometimes the various planning boards and the city commissions will find all kinds of opponents popping up against that.' And he said, 'The not in my backyard thing has got to stop if we're going to have enough housing for people to live in.' And not just houses, too, there's also the apartment issue. So, on the commercial side, he said it's still not normalized. You know, the work from home practice has still left a lot of commercial structures not full. One of the things that's interesting that's happening here and elsewhere, though, is the repurposing of these facilities.

We did a Facebook Live community conversation, and our panelists were talking about, you know, you can make these buildings space for maybe a small a small company that wants to have a brick-and-mortar operation, but, you know, can't afford to have a whole big space to rent. But they can set up in some of this commercial space. And of course, you can also look at converting the commercial spaces into housing, which of course is already happening to some extent in Dayton downtown, well to a great extent, a lot of those buildings that are becoming housing were once factories and such.

JK: Well, Lynn there's a lot of information in your series of reports that we didn't even touch on. So, I urge people to check out your reporting on the Daily News website or in their local papers. Lynn, thanks so much for your time today.

LH: Sure thing. Thank you.

Jerry Kenney was introduced to WYSO by a friend and within a year of first tuning in became an avid listener and supporter. He began volunteering at the station in 1991 and began hosting Alpha Rhythms in February of 1992. Jerry joined the WYSO staff in 2007 as a host of All Things Considered and soon transitioned into hosting Morning Edition. In addition to now hosting All Things Considered, Jerry is the host and producer of WYSO Weekend, WYSO's weekly news and arts magazine. He has also produced several radio dramas for WYSO in collaboration with local theater companies. Jerry has won several Ohio AP awards as well as an award from PRINDI for his work with the WYSO news department. Jerry says that the best part of his job is being able to talk to people in the community and share their experiences with WYSO listeners.