House GOP leader: Dayton ‘in the running’ for Space Command

House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, at the podium outside Hope Hotel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, stands to McCarthy’s right. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF
House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-California, at the podium outside Hope Hotel at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Tuesday. U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, stands to McCarthy’s right. THOMAS GNAU/STAFF

The Dayton area has a “viable” shot at winning the national competition for U.S. Space Command headquarters, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said during a visit to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Tuesday.

 

“If you look at history, flight was created here,” McCarthy said at a brief press conference outside the Hope Hotel and Conference Center on the base. “This place is definitely viable. Wright-Patt, they’re definitely in the running.”

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He added: “If you look at the work that Wright-Patt does, they’re definitely in the running. But we want to make sure that it’s the right place, that it has the right synergy, and I’ll let the experts take all of that into consideration.”

McCarthy, R-California, came away impressed after briefings on the base, including a stop at the fast-growing National Air and Space Intelligence Center, otherwise known as “NASIC.”

“I would not come here without making sure I visited Wright-Patt,” said McCarthy, whose district includes Edwards Air Force Base.

In May, the Department of Defense invited communities across the country to nominate themselves as a home for the U.S. Space Command, which was formed last August as the military’s 11th unified combatant command, overseeing U.S. military missions in orbit.

The future headquarters is expected to have about 1,400 military and civilian employees, which would only add to Wright-Patterson’s 30,000 employees.

Wright-Patt is already Ohio’s largest single-site employer.

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Among the criteria laid out by the Pentagon in its search for the headquarters: Communities should be within 25 miles of a military base, within the top 150 most populous “metropolitan statistical areas,” and score at least 50 out of 100 points on the American Association of Retired Persons’ Livability Index, among other criteria.

Dayton clearly has a military base nearby. As of July 2019, the Dayton-Kettering metro area was ranked at 107 in terms of population. And according to the AARP Index, the Dayton area scores a 53.

And recently, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine endorsed Dayton’s bid in the Space Command race, lending the Buckeye State a unified voice on the question.

“Gov. DeWine made sure that we were one team for Ohio, that Ohio submitted one application, which we did, and in conjunction with our senators, our congressional delegation, we pulled together and ensured that we were all behind Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton.

McCarthy was Turner's guest at Wright-Patterson Tuesday, as was U.S. Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, Turner's colleague on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

Colorado Springs, Colo. retains Space Command’s provisional headquarters as the Pentagon considers a new home for the command.