The state will fund $10 million over the next two years to strengthen Ohio’s military bases and boost the aerospace industry in the Dayton-Springfield region.
The money, set aside in the state budget, will fund a number of projects to position Dayton and Ohio as national centers of aerospace and aeronautics identified by Dayton Projects, Inc., the public funding arm of the Dayton Development Coalition.
Coalition President and CEO Jeff Hoagland said the money will be used to retain and create jobs in aeronautics, with a focus on efforts in Dayton and Springfield.
“This is huge for the state of Ohio and this is a program that will be looked at,” Hoagland said. “It’s an expansion and a retention program statewide focused on defense and aerospace.”
The grant will be used for four efforts:
- To identify strengths and weaknesses at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Springfield Air National Guard Base and other Ohio bases to help prevent future federal defense budget cuts.
- An unmanned aerial vehicle research center in Springfield.
- $3 million for Wright State University’s Applied Research Corporation’s work in conjunction with the Air Force Research Laboratory.
- Turn research into jobs.
State Sen. Bill Beagle, R - Tipp City, said it has long been a priority to “one day turn the Dayton region into the nation’s epicenter for aeronautics and aerospace systems.”
“These workforce dollars should bring us a few steps closer toward achieving that goal. Our part of the state continues to be a highly-desired place for aircraft research and production and we must continue our work to keep it that way for decades to come.”
Lawmakers appropriated $5.8 million over the last two years and $10 million for the next two years. Hoagland said the first two years of funding paid for consultants who worked on the state’s unmanned aerial vehicle site proposal to the Federal Aviation Administration.
The grant will be used to continue that work, as well as identify ways the Dayton-Springfield region can attract more businesses in the UAV and aerospace industry.
“For 20 years, aerospace has been a focal point of Ohio and the Dayton region and the General Assembly has realized this,” Hoagland said. “They’ve seen this and a lot of people don’t understand what goes on down here.”
Wright State University will receive $3 million over two years to continue its “human performance” research — work the university, its research institute and partners do that is focused on improving the abilities and effectiveness of people, said Stephanie Gottschlich, Wright State spokeswoman.
The university’s efforts are also aimed at increasing the amount of research funding that is awarded to the Dayton area, she said.
“They’re basically researching: What can we do to improve the human’s ability to perform in tasks such as flying or being involved in an unmanned aerial system or looking at intelligence data?” she said.
The university has worked to create a nationally recognized center on human performance research. The area has attracted $180 million in investments and 350 jobs in recent years from companies relocating to the region.
“Because we’re so close to the base, we committed to partnering with other universities, with industry who are working in the human performance field, to keep those human performance research contracts and research dollars here,” she said. “And ultimately that benefits the region and the state.”
Wright State will use its laboratories and people to leverage the funding, she said.
Wright State’s Applied Research Corporation and the Human Performance Consortium will each provide $1.25 million each year in matching funds.
“Ohio and the Dayton area have a great opportunity to develop the aerospace industry and to be on the leading edge of new UAV industrial and talent development,” Sen. Chris Widener, R-Springfield, said in a statement.