Wright-Patt Expansion Poised to Create New Jobs, Boost Dayton-Area Economy

Sep 20, 2018 | News, Newsletter

John Bush
Staff Reporter, Dayton Business Journal

 

Ohio legislators and leaders in the Dayton-area community on Tuesday celebrated the bipartisan efforts that helped land the largest single-site construction project in the history of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — a win officials say will provide an economic boost to the region.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner (R-Dayton) and U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) thanked members of the Dayton Development Coalition and Montgomery County officials for their collaboration on the project — a $182 million expansion of the National Air and Space Intelligence Center — and local leaders applauded the legislators’ ability to make the initiative a reality.

“When we work together as a team, as a result of that, it made a huge difference for our community,” Turner said.

Funding for the expansion project was part of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is expected to be signed by President Donald Trump Monday. The NDAA fully authorizes phases one and two of the project, which includes a new building on the NASIC campus. The building, which the Air Force has dubbed the “ADAL Intelligence Production Complex,” would add nearly 149,000 square feet to the center’s current capacity.

“This is a big deal,” Brown said. “It’s the biggest expansion for a one-site facility like NASIC that Wright-Patt has ever had, and it took bipartisan work.”

The new facility, which will take three to four years to complete, will mean short-term construction jobs and is likely to bring additional full-time positions to the base. Officials were unaware of the exact number of full-time jobs the expansion project will create, but regardless of the amount, the economic impact will have a “ripple down” effect, said Jeff Hoagland, president and CEO of the Dayton Development Coalition.

The likelihood of an employee increase will build on substantial growth already occurring at NASIC. Hoagland noted the mission has been adding 100 people annually for the last 15 years, meaning 1,500 jobs have been created in just one area of the base.

“They’re buying houses, they’re going out to eat, they’re going to our schools, and these are high-paying jobs,” Hoagland said, adding most positions pay $90,000 or above.

Hoagland said the high salaries and sheer number of jobs creates a multiplier effect that can have two to five times the impact on the local economy.

“These jobs can actually ripple down into the economy in a good way,” he said.

The NDAA also kept existing jobs at Wright-Patt through a provision that barred the Manufacturing Technology Division of the Air Force Research Laboratory from leaving the base without congressional approval. The program, created under the Defense Production Act, supports Dayton-area jobs and brings investment to the region through contracts awarded to the program. It also funds “critical defense technologies the defense department needs in the United States that otherwise might not flourish,” said Michael Gessel, vice president of federal government programs for the DDC.

The mission only has about 25 workers, but its budget is hundreds of millions of dollars, making it a key component of the base.

“I think Senator Brown and Congressman Turner both realized that certain missions within the AFRL are critical to the big picture,” Hoagland said.

The NDAA also included pay raises for military personnel, expedited hiring provisions, more than $1 billion for the AFRL, and funding for Air Force bases such as Wright-Patt to continue efforts meant to protect the local water supply from toxic chemicals, which are known as PFAS.

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