Local and federal leaders open Dayton’s new defense-focused center downtown

The Mission Acceleration Center or ‘MAC’ at the Dayton Arcade is one of just five such centers nationwide

There are only five defense-focused Mission Acceleration Centers (MACs) nationwide. Now, Dayton has one of them.

Here, on the third floor of The Hub at the downtown Dayton Arcade, entrepreneurs and researchers will be encouraged to speak the language of the Department of Defense. And defense professionals will speak the language of business.

In October, Ohio was selected as one of five states by the Department of Defense’s Defense Innovation Unit to host a hub, and the DOD provided $1.9 million to make it happen. Parallax Advanced Research, a nonprofit research institute in Beavercreek, was awarded the grant to establish the hub.

A ribbon-cutting event Friday afternoon was the first fruition of that award.

What comes next is work.

“Any small business, any technology-generator, any innovator who has technology which can be of use to the Defense Department, which can find its way into weapons systems — which gives us a cutting edge in technological superiority — any of those will be able to use the MAC,” said Michael Gessel, vice president of federal government programs for the Dayton Development Coalition.

“Dayton has really been the driving force in Ohio becoming a major aerospace state,” Sen. Sherrod Brown said.

Ohio is home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — the state’s largest employer in a single location — the NASA-Glenn research center, more Airbus jobs than any other state, as well as federal and military installations supporting some 380,000 jobs statewide and delivering nearly $40 billion in gross regional product, according to JobsOhio, the state’s private jobs creation arm.

“We have become a major, major aerospace state, an aerospace center in the country,” Brown said.

The Great Lakes Mission Acceleration Center, also called “OnRamp Hub: Ohio,” will serve entrepreneurs, academics, and government innovators from across the Great Lakes area with science and technology solutions to DOD problems.

“Someone needs to be able to answer the door when somebody knocks on the door of the Department of Defense and says, ‘Hey, I’ve got the innovation that you need. I know of a problem that you have that I can solve,’” said U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, who was among the speakers at Friday’s event.

That kind of structure connects the DOD to problem-solvers in Dayton and beyond, Turner and others said.

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