Private sector investment in defense corridor near Wright-Patt lauded

Technology companies already committed to filling three stories of new building now under construction.

The private sector investment around Dayton into national defense was praised Friday by Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, both saying it will help Wright-Patterson in a future base realignment process.

Both politicians were on hand as Synergy Building Systems held a ceremonial groundbreaking for its new $19 million Beavercreek office building off of Colonel Glenn Highway near Meijer. Tech companies with work at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base have already committed to filling the space for the building.

“Synergy, for example, is building buildings designed specifically for contractors. When we have more contractors here, we end up creating more jobs. It’s really a synergistic relationship between what’s going on at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the contractors,” DeWine said.

Modern Technology Solutions will fill the first two floors, and LinQuest Corporation will fill the third floor of the new building. In all, the new building will have approximately 63,000 square feet of space.

Lt. Governor Jon Husted said the private sector can build these new spaces for defense contractors at a rate faster than the military, sometimes three times as fast.

Jerad Barnett, president and CEO of Synergy Building Systems, said this latest building was part of their ongoing expansion and investment into the defense sector near Wright-Patterson.

“This building will be our 68th building in what we affectionately call the Wright-Patt defense corridor. That puts us at just over two million square feet of space we’ve constructed and developed here. Within these 68 buildings is the conservatively estimated 5,500 jobs created or retained in our state,” Barnett said. “These jobs could go anywhere, and yet we’ve captured them right here in our state of Ohio. And maybe the best fact of all, with this building, Synergy will have invested $499.2 million in this Wright-Patt defense corridor.”

Synergy is also planning to construct additional buildings in this area. Barnett said they are clearing more ground nearby for what they are calling Project Rainier, named after Mount Rainier.

“Project Rainier will break ground in the fall and result in another $22 million invested in this same Wright-Patt defense corridor,” Barnett said. In addition to Project Rainier, Barnett said Synergy is working on several other sites in the area with the hopes of building another one million square feet to this area, investing approximately $250 million.

“Available secure facilities are extremely undersupplied in the market limiting the amount of work able to be done outside the fence in support of WPAFB,” said Julie Sullivan, Dayton Development Coalition’s executive vice president of regional development. “Given the current 6% vacancy rate in east Dayton, this new development is critical to allow the defense sector to grow.”

It is unclear if there will be another round of BRAC, which was most recently done in 2005-2011, but the realignment process was mentioned a few times during Friday’s event. The 2005 BRAC process closed 22 bases and realigned 33 others.

“We went through a BRAC process, all of us together, and frankly, the concern when that BRAC process started was we were going to lose,” DeWine said. “The end result is, we didn’t lose, we went forward and went up, and it’s a real tribute to this community.”

During the Trump administration in 2018, there was a proposal by the Department of Defense to approve a study that could have facilitated another round of BRAC, but it did not come to fruition. It is unclear if President Joe Biden will propose a BRAC round in his budget proposal, set to be released next week. Turner has said previously that the Department of Defense has asked every two years for a new BRAC.

“This is not just about us, it’s not just about jobs, it is about national defense and figuring out how to get the innovation we have in this country into the war fighter just as quickly as we can,” DeWine said.

DeWine, when asked about the possibility of a new BRAC round, said, “We know that BRAC comes back...I think we always want to be ready and we want to make Wright Patterson Air Force Base even more indispensable to the Air Force than it already is.”

Turner, who is the newly appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, lauded the economic growth created both inside and outside the barriers at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, saying the community recognized the base as an “unrealized economic opportunity.”

“At just 19,000 people that were inside the fence and over 40% of the Air Force budget passing through it in early 2000, we knew that if we could undertake a strategy where those dollars could land here in research and development in our universities, in jobs and economic development outside the fence, and in jobs and economic development inside the fence, we could have a huge economic development impact on our region, and then also in the state,” Turner said. “Today, as you all note, we’re getting ready to crest around 35,000 jobs in the fence at Wright-Patterson and tens of thousands of jobs that have grown outside the base, and that’s been a result of our working together as a team.”

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