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July 2, 2015 – Dayton Business Journal, By Tristan Navera

Many of the major businesses and organizations in town are trying harder than ever to interface with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Many of the major businesses and organizations in town are trying harder than ever to interface with Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

Hospitals are forming a new organization to commercialize technology developed on base, while local universities target it for more research. In addition, municipalities look to share services and arts and entertainment groups look to reel in more airmen.

This comes as the Dayton Development Coalition and state of Ohio celebrated a Community Excellence Award this week, presented by the Association of Defense Communities as the latest nod to efforts to preserve the jobs at the base.

At a gathering in Beavercreek, leaders discussed the growing list of ways they’re trying to interact with Wright-Patt.

“For the base, the conversation has been on how we can avoid costs or generate revenue,” said Col. John Devillier, commander of the 88th Air Base Wing, the host unit of the base. “That means a new way of thinking about how we interact.”

While the base has been growing in prominence, it — like all military installations — remains vulnerable to budget cuts. As other major employers have left the Dayton region in the past decade, Wright-Patt has grown by thousands of jobs to nearly 27,500, and supporting nearly the same number of defense and other jobs in the area. As such, Wright-Patt brings a $4 billion economic impact locally.

Military bases have in the past served as self-supporting cities, but with the defense budget tightening, the edict has been clear from Washington — bases must cut costs and integrate into their surrounding communities.

“Sharing services and resources is a benefit to us all,” said Deb McDonnell, city manager of Fairborn.

Wright-Patt is one of the most organizationally complex bases in the U.S. Air Force, but that means it has more organizations to work with, especially with research.

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From the health care end, the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, Premier Health, Kettering Health Network and Dayton Children’s Hospital have formed Ascend, a private enterprise aimed at commercializing tech developed for the military. And the Ohio Federal Research Network, a plan where major colleges and universities throughout Ohio take a more aggressive stance to grab research contracts, just got funding in the state budget.

“When it comes to technology, we’ve been very invested with (unmanned aerial systems) and the relationship has been a benefit to our students,” said Deb Norris, vice president of workforce development at Sinclair Community College.

And municipalities have been creating ways to share services with the base to cut costs, and ideas to generate money there have ranged from opening golf courses to letting businesses rent unused base land.

“Every community in the region is impacted by Wright-Patt,” said Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the DDC. “Beavercreek, Riverside, Fairborn, all of them are looking at ways to work together with the base.”

 

The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.