The nation could go through another domestic military-installation consolidation process, also known as “BRAC,” for Base Closure and Realignment, Jeff Hoagland, president and chief executive of the Dayton Development Coalition, warned Friday.
The BRAC process is neither fast not cheap, with communities and lawmakers fighting fiercely to protect bases in their back yards.
That’s probably why there hasn’t been a BRAC since 2005, when Wright-Patterson Air Force Base gained more than 1,500 direct new jobs and more than $335 million in new construction activity, wins that had a positive ripple effect across the region.
Hoagland warned that the region should be vigilant.
Here’s what to know right now.
1. The stakes are high.
Wright-Patterson Air Force Base outside Fairborn is the Air Force’s biggest base, according to the Air Force Times, and is Ohio’s largest single-site employer with nearly 30,000 military and civilian jobs and what is thought to be a nearly $4 billion economic impact on the region. In 2014, jobs “inside the fence” had a total payroll of $3.63 billion.
Consider: If the Air Force Materiel Command were private, it would be a Fortune 50 company. If the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center were private, that would be a Fortune 135 company.
And both are based right here at Wright-Patterson.
2. BRACs are double-edged swords.
BRACs can be bad for communities, which is why they’re feared.
But they can also represent wins. And some observers think Dayton and Wright-Patterson could do well in another BRAC.
“Base closure is not bad for everybody,” said Loren Thompson, a defense analyst with the Arlington, Va.-based Lexington Institute who is very familiar with Dayton. “I think the Dayton area should view a new base closure round as an opportunity.”
“Wright-Patterson is probably the best run base in the entire Air Force,” he added. “Ohio really does not have its share of military facilities. Wright-Patt is it, and you could build on that, rather than worry about it getting smaller.
3. BRAC vigilance never really ends
At least not in Dayton. The Dayton Development Coalition flies members to Washington, D.C. every year to rub elbows with lawmakers. This year will be no different, with the “fly-in” set for April 24 to 26. More than 100 people from the region are expected to go.
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