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Facts About Dayton
Dayton's Trade Territory


A trade territory defined on a geometrical basis is more plausible in the middle west than in most sections of the country. This arises from the fact that in C. F. A. territory railway rates are determined by mileage, ad from the further fact that on account of its flat topography, the railway lines of the territory are unusually direct.


Dayton Predominates In An Area of Over 8,000 Square Miles

This refers to a zone defined by the competition with Dayton of the cities of Toledo, Columbus, Cincinnati and Indianapolis. If midway lines are drawn, Dayton's trade territory becomes a quadrilateral figure, within which there is no other city of even half Dayton's size. This nearer zone of influence includes parts of 26 counties in Ohio and Indiana. The total population within the quadrilateral is 838,884.  Within the four largest included in the zone 294,400 people live. What may be called the “urban” population of the zone amounts to 709,732. Its area is 8,009 square miles. Its density of population is 105 persons per square mile, as compared with 141 for the state of Ohio and 81 for the state of Indiana The people within the zone are almost universally native whites living in private dwellings with small families.  Illiteracy among them is very low. The per capita wealth within the zone is estimated at $3,000.  The per capita current income, which corresponds closely with the annual consuming power is about $559; equivalent to a total income in the zone of $468,000,000 yearly. While the zone is deficient in some items of wealth, the shortages are not generally of industrial importance. The aggregate of positive shortages is about $108,000,000. The largest item in this aggregate which is of industrial importance is that which includes clothing, personal adornment and furniture.

The trade territory thus outlined has a maximum radius from its own center of about 50 miles. Dayton is somewhat eccentrically located, hut-has admirable connections by rail and highway to nearly all parts of the zone. It must be admitted that similarly admirable connections are possessed by present and potential competitors; which, however are farther removed.


Agricultural Conditions Are Good

In both Miami and Montgomery Counties, where comprehensive soil surveys have been made, the soils (mostly clay loams and silt loams) are highly productive; the bottom lands of corn, and the uplands of corn, wheat and tobacco. Some of this soil is naturally rather poorly drained but the best type of artificial under-drainage has existed for many years. Although some of the bottom soil is subject to occasional overflow, practically all of the lands (except the small areas which are wooded) are under cultivation.


Current Conditions Are Good

Too many farmers are in debt and the average farm indebtedness is too heavy. Comparing these counties with state averages (even when remembering that Ohio is a highly developed state, agriculturally) and keeping in mind the respective areas or populations, the Ohio zone about Dayton is distinguished by a high proportion of land in farms, highly developed and improved. The average size of farm is increasing toward the state average. The average improved acreage per farm is already greater than the state average. Average valuations of farm lands, farm buildings, farm implements and machinery and total farm property are greater than the state averages and have been increasing taster. All of these counties are heavy producers of all possible important staples. They produce corn and rye at twice the state average rate and tobacco at five times that rate; nearly all with high yields. The advanced condition of cultivation is probably responsible for certain detailed shortages, such as (for example) the relatively low stocks of sheep. Swine raising is declining. There is an unusual number of very small farms, three to five acres, and the counties exhibit more tenant farming than may be desirable; but the farmers are very largely native whites.

Considering the importance of Dayton and other manufacturing cities, it is surprising to find that farm wages in southwestern Ohio are comparatively low; although not as low, it is true, as in the southwestern portion and some other portions of the State.


Dayton Is Active In This Market

Merchandising in general, in Dayton, is adapted to the requirements not of the city alone, but of a substantial trade area around the city. According to the census of 1920 there were 2,243 retail dealers, including managers and superintendents of stores, in the city at that time. This is probably the most reliable figure developed to indicate the number of stores. From other sources there are estimated to be all the way from 1,207 to 2,510 "establishments" (departments rather than stores) in the city, and a recent estimate shows 4,162 retail establishments within a 34-mile radius. On the basis of any of these figures, and for Dayton or Montgomery County alone, local retailing would seem to be overdone. It may be as much as 50 percent overdone, considering stores within a 35-mile radius. This is a common condition in the middle west. If the whole of Dayton's nearer zone of influence is considered, however, there is an average of 5.89 stores per 1,000 population, including 2.21 grocery stores.  This represents a subnormal equipment, and justifies, at least partly and probably wholly, Dayton's excess of retail facilities.  It also Indicates a very substantial wholesale market in which Dayton should predominate. While It is always possible to overstress merchandising, geographically, there is no indication of such overstress In connection with Dayton. What over-emphasis exists has been rather an over-emphasis on certain merchandising methods, quite Irrespective of matters of geographical distribution.




Includes the Most Promising Section of the United States

This has in mind a trade area of perfectly definite characteristics and Immense importance, which is in the main outside the spheres of influence of the large cities, St. Louis, Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. It Is a zone extending toward the southeast, which Dayton shares with Cincinnati, Columbus, Louisville, Birmingham, Atlanta, and other cities, there being within the zone a total of 17 cities having populations of 50,000 or over. New Orleans has not been regarded in delineating the boundaries of this zone, but Richmond, Virginia, has been added to the list of extraneous competing cities. The zone is considered to terminate at the approximate distances of 100 miles from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. This zone includes parts of twelve states which are subnormal in their possession of every item of wealth except live stock. The average per capita wealth of the twelve states is estimated at $2,090, as compared with a national average of $3,040.  The aggregate shortage of wealth thus indicated is about $15,000,000,000. Correspondingly, this trade territory is of subnormal purchasing and consuming power. It is estimated that at the present time its annual consuming power is about $2,000,000,000 below normal. That is, if the area were brought up to the general average of American prosperity, its annual consuming power would be increased by $2,000,000,000.

In spite of its present subnormal state, this southeastern zone is generally agreed to be the most promising section of the whole United States. It is advancing rapidly and seems likely to advance in the immediate future still more rapidly. As it advances to genuine prosperity the industrial cities mentioned and the other smaller cities which serve the zone should prosper with it. In this prosperity Dayton should have its share.

The agricultural situation in this zone is one of the points first in need of correction. Ohio, it is true, is one of the most important agricultural states as well as one of the greatest industrial states. Its agriculture is intensively developed and the advanced condition of the farmer is demonstrated by the unusual proportion of improvements and refinements in the way of machinery, appliances and comforts. Crop values do not reach the peak point shown in Illinois and Iowa, and the southeastern portion of the state is rather barren. Just at the moment conditions are not at their best. There is too much tenancy and too much farm debt. Interest rates on farm mortgages fortunately are low.

With respect to many important crops Indiana is an even larger producer than Ohio. Kentucky, however. Is a backward state. The factors which make farm life attractive and endurable exist in Kentucky, where they exist at all, only in a low state of development.

Throughout this region the corn crop remains one of the first importance and seems likely to expand rather than decrease, provided only that fundamental agricultural conditions improve. Corn, hay, wheat and tobacco are produced in large surpluses, the last, of course, being limited to Kentucky, where it is of the first Importance, and to southwestern Ohio, including the region immediately around Dayton.  Except in parts of Kentucky, the forests of the nearer region have been Irremediably depleted. Reforestation is now, however, a live issue in the South.




And That of Its Trade Territory


A brief recapitulation of the figures is as follows:

Annual Consuming Requirements in

The City of Dayton


Domestic ..........................................$123,490,000

Construction ....................................     13,024,188

Industrial ........................................     110,202,000



For the nearer zone of influence, domestic requirements are estimated at $469,000,000 and construction requirements, somewhat roughly, at $32,560.000. Total requirements, including industrial materials, are well over $600,000,000.

For the larger zone of influence total for all purposes are over seven and one-halt billion dollars; production, including agricultural and mineral production, is about eight and one-halt billion dollars; and net Industrial requirements, after allowing for the industrial production of the zone, over three billion dollars. The principal requirements (somewhat unexpectedly) are in textiles, lumber and food products. These figures may be contrasted with the total annual industrial production of Dayton which as estimated, is currently somewhere in the neighborhood of $250,000,000.

Domestic requirements for Dayton, and for its nearer zone, have been estimated broadly. The bulk of consumption (94 percent and 84 percent respectively) is supplied from local sources. The materials used in construction are about 57 percent of local origin. Less than 20 percent of industrial materials consumed in the city of Dayton are secured locally. Considering that Dayton's industrial materials are intermediates, rather than basic, this was perhaps to have been expected. As already shown, the cost of inward transportation of raw materials is not a vital matter-to Dayton.

The bulk of materials directly imported from abroad are those which go into industrial consumption. The total of observable imports for all purposes in the city of Dayton is under $2,000,000 annually, and the corresponding total for the nearer zone of influence is probably not much over $3,000,000.

Average annual retail purchases per family, omitting rent, savings and amusement expenditures are about $456 in Dayton, and $390 in the nearer zone.



Dayton is active in export trade. Some 40 of its manufacturers are listed on the Exporter's Index, and over 100 specific items made in Dayton are marketed abroad. Dayton exports a far larger proportion of its industrial products than does the state of Ohio as a whole.

It has been found that Dayton exports about 4½  percent of its total industrial products. The volume of export trade may seem somewhat disappointing but it should be remembered that of the total Industrial products of the United States only five percent are exported; so that Dayton is doing about its share of export trade. The "miscellaneous" group of industries accounts for the bulk of Dayton's exports, but the iron and steel group is also of real importance.



A very few Industries declined from 1919 to 1923 in value of products turned out. Among these there were box manufacture, foundries and machine shops, slaughtering and meat packing, tool manufacture and certain miscellaneous industries.  Practically all industries have since developed in a satisfactory way.

During the past four or five years Dayton's average annual value of products per wage earner, which is low, has been Increasing. Dayton's expenditure for wages is now proportionately less per unit of product value than it was in 1919; which may be taken to indicate both increased labor efficiency and an advance in the price scale which is greater, relatively, than the advance in the wage scale.

Dayton has today 470 manufacturing plants making over 750 industrial products, not counting duplications.

Dayton is almost booming and its industry is expanding. In fact, it is to be hoped that it is not more than almost booming. Any further acceleration of activity would perhaps be unfortunate. If the recent rate of growth can be maintained, the result should be entirely satisfactory. Merchants and professional men are those to be chiefly benefited by growth in population and are consequently those who should be chiefly concerned in behalf of sound industrial development.


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