Base, coalition leaders to be at Air Force expo next week

Dayton will be represented next week at the Air Force Association’s 2012 Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition.

Leaders from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the Dayton Development Coalition will be on hand. Jeff Hoagland, the coalition’s president and chief executive, and Joe Zeis, its executive vice president and chief strategic officer, will also be there, reminding attendees of Ohio and the Dayton region’s importance to aviation and aerospace.

Their message will be simple, Zeis said. “We’re there because the community is Wright-Patterson, and Wright-Patterson is the community,” he said. “It’s an enduring base.”

The expo will be Monday through Wednesday at National Harbor, Md.

Zeis expects approaching fiscal sequestration to be a topic of concern as well as the ongoing push to rein in spending. The reorganization of the Wright-Patterson-headquartered Air Force Materiel Command from 12 centers to five remains a topic of interest and arguably strengthens the local base’s importance, Zeis said. Nearly half of those centers — the Air Force Research Laboratory and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center — are anchored at Wright-Patterson, he said.

The AFMC reorganization has eliminated 1,050 positions to save about $100 million yearly, the Air Force Times reported. At Wright-Patterson, the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center activated in early July, with all Air Force acquisition organizations reporting to that center, Zeis said.

Beyond Wright-Patterson and its 29,000 military and civilian employees, Ohio itself is crucial in the aerospace and aviation arena. The coalition said the state has more than 100,000 full-time workers in those industries. Both Boeing and Airbus count Ohio as their No. 1 supplier state.

Zeis calls the trail of industrial activity from GE Aviation in Cincinnati to the company’s presence in Dayton, along with Wright-Patterson and the University of Dayton Research Institute, up to NASA Glenn in Cleveland the nation’s aviation “power and propulsion corridor.”

GE Aviation’s new $51 million, 120,000-square-foot Electrical Power Integrated Systems Research and Development Center, or “EPISCENTER,” in Dayton will research aviation electrical, power, propulsion and materials systems. The center is being built now off River Park Drive.

“You could make a significant argument about Ohio being in the very top tier among the aerospace states in the nation,” Zeis said.