NCR move threatens Dayton charities, arts groups

DAYTON, Ohio (AP) - The transfer of NCR Corp. headquarters to Georgia threatens to bleed major dollars and support from charities, food pantries and the city's art museum.

NCR, founded in Dayton in 1884 as the National Cash Register Company, is a prominent philanthropic player in the local community.

The company, the world's leading provider of ATMs, said Tuesday it plans to move its corporate headquarters from Dayton to suburban Atlanta beginning in July. Some of the 1,250 workers at the headquarters will be offered transfers.

NCR and its employees were the second largest contributors in the United Way of Greater Dayton's 2008 fundraising campaign, donating $460,000.

"We're really sad to see them go," said Jayne Klose, group's senior vice president.

The United Way is a network of 78 health and human-service agencies. It helps fund organizations and causes such as the American Red Cross, Catholic Social Services, domestic-violence centers, job-retraining efforts, food pantries and homeless shelters.

With NCR employees leaving, the United Way will have lost three of its top five contributors in recent years. The closing of General Motors Corp.'s SUV plant in suburban Moraine in December and recent plant closings and layoffs by auto parts supplier Delphi Corp. have also hurt.

"For us, it's been kind of a double whammy," Klose said. "And the needs are at an all-time high in Dayton right now."

Arts groups also fear fallout from the NCR move.

In 1974, then-NCR President Bill Anderson helped found the Dayton Performing Arts Fund, which later became Culture Works.

NCR and its workers were not only the largest single contributor to Culture Works for a number of years, but employees also served on numerous boards of directors for arts organizations, said Denise Rehg, the group's president.

"They will be sorely missed," Rehg said. "It's really like losing a good friend."

Culture Works helps fund the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, the opera, the ballet, a dance company and several theater groups.

"It's going to impact all of them because there is less money coming into the campaign and because many of them got money directly from NCR as well," Rehg said.

Paul Helfrich, president of the Dayton Philharmonic, said the NCR move will mean that a well-educated and well-compensated group of workers will likely be gone from the area.

"That's a potential loss of audience," he said.

The family that founded National Cash Register was also among the founding patrons of the Dayton Art Institute, which was built in 1919. Over the years, NCR donated money and helped sponsor exhibitions at the art museum. In addition, NCR workers served as volunteers there.

The museum's 500-seat auditorium is named after the company.

"This is a loss that I think will be particularly felt at our institution because we've had such a close relationship throughout history," said Jan Driesbach, director and CEO of the institute.


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