January 17, 2016 – Pharos-Tribune, Carson Gerber
A $2.7 million grant aimed at boosting the state’s defense industry could help economic development in Miami County and the surrounding area.
Indiana was awarded the federal money in December from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Office of Economic Adjustment.
Duane Embree, executive of the director of the Indiana Office of Defense and Development, which is administering the grant, said the money will be used in part to identify the state’s defense-industry supply chain and create an online database documenting that chain.
Once the state knows which companies are supplying services to the DOD, the grant will support strategies to diversify those services at the local and regional level, which will make them more competitive in the national economy, he said.
That move could go a long way in helping Miami County, in which Grissom Air Reserve Base is located, to identify businesses which have the potential to benefit from the defense industry, said Jim Tidd, executive director of the Miami County Economic Development Authority.
“It’s hard to know who is out there working as a supplier to a contractor or who actually has a contract with the defense department,” he said. “Having this money available to develop a database will give all of us in the region an idea of who is out there and what the opportunities are.”
The defense industry is big business in Indiana. Federal defense spending in the state totaled $9.2 billion in 2009, according to a study published in 2011 by Bloomberg Government. That accounts for 3.5 percent of the state’s gross-domestic product.
The state initiative comes after local officials last year created the Grissom Regional Defense Alliance, which in part aims to bring DOD contracts to businesses and companies surrounding the air base.
Tidd said the federal grant will help the new alliance achieve that goal.
“I think this will be a good tool for us,” he said. “It will help us understand what we have, and once you understand that, you can look at the need and then shop for companies to meet that need.”
Embree said the grant will also be used to better understand and develop an action plan to assist businesses and communities impacted by reductions in DOD defense spending, and identify defense technologies that could give entrepreneurs new business opportunities.
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.