- Mark Fisher Staff Writer
The recent $1 million donation that made the Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture possible at Cox Arboretum MetroPark is only the latest example of the impact that James M. Cox, his descendants and their affiliated foundations have had on the Miami Valley.
James M. Cox was a three-term Ohio Governor, 1920 Democratic nominee for U.S. President and the founder of Cox Enterprises, the parent company of Cox Media Group Ohio (CMGO) and its media properties, including WHIO-TV, WHIO Radio, the Dayton Daily News, Springfield News-Sun and the JournalNews and their affiliated websites.
Here are five things you may not know about this news organization’s founder, former Ohio Gov. James M. Cox, and his family’s role in the Dayton community, both at the forefront and behind the scenes.
Here’s why we fly in and out of the “James M. Cox Dayton International Airport”: In the mid-1930s, local business and community leaders were concerned that the existing airport was unable to handle newer transcontinental aircraft, according to the airport’s web site, flydayton.com. By then, James M. Cox stepped in to help lead a $65,000 fund-raising effort to allow the city of Dayton to buy the airport, raising money from businesses from as far away as Middletown, Piqua and Troy. That paved the way for the airport to qualify for federal funding through the U.S. Works Projects Administration for much-needed airport improvements. And more than 15 years later, in 1952, the Dayton City Commission renamed the airport the “James M. Cox-Dayton Municipal Airport,” which became the “James M. Cox Dayton International Airport” in 1975.
2. COX ARBORETUM
In 1962, members of the Cox family donated the land south of Dayton that would become Cox Arboretum, along with a trust fund to help support it. A decade later, the land and arboretum became part of the MetroParks park district. Cox Foundations have donated more than $2 million since that time for various projects related to the Arboretum, including the Barbara Cox Center for Sustainable Horticulture. The center is named after the late Barbara Cox, daughter of James M. Cox.
3. RIVERSCAPE RIVER RUN
The James M. Cox Foundation in 2011 made a $1 million challenge grant to the RiverScape River Run project that will remove the dangerous Monument Avenue low dam and create a much safer fast-water kayak and canoe recreation destination and other recreational opportunities along the Great Miami River. Former CMGO Market Vice President Alex Taylor, great-grandson of the late Gov. James M. Cox and current executive vice president of Cox Enterprises, committed Cox Media Group Ohio’s focus on resolving the low dam issue and led the company in its first participation at Clean Sweep of The Great Miami River. Since then, Cox volunteers have removed nearly 8.5 tons of trash from riverbanks along the Great Miami River.
4. HOSPITAL PROJECTS
Cox Foundations announced a $25,000 grant to the Dayton Children’s Hospital in 2011 to complete the renovation and expansion of the Soin Trauma and Emergency Center. In 2015, the Foundation donated $250,000 to help fund the hospital’s patient-care tower expansion and renovation project at the Valley Street campus. When completed in 2017, the $153 million project will transform care for children in the hospital’s 20-county service region, Dayton Children’s officials said. New facilities will include a Newborn Intensive Care Unit with enhanced critical-care technology and a Comprehensive Cancer and Blood Disorders Center that will combine inpatient and outpatient care in one location.
5. COMMUNITY SERVICE
The Cox family, along with its companies and employees, contribute to the community in several other, less high-profile ways, including offering in-kind services such as air time and public service announcement production to Dayton-area non-profit organizations; hosting an annual Cares for Kids Radiothon for Dayton Children’s Hospital that has raised more than $3.3 million since 1998; and donating more than $20,000 worth of tickets to the NCAA First Four basketball games to service members at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.