Growing defense-related jobs focus of $7M grant--Dayton Daily News
Money will be used to study how to diversify local economy
by Barrie Barber, Staff Writer for The Dayton Daily News. You can read the original article at www.bit.ly/1n4secL
Wright State Applied Research Corp. will receive more than $7 million from the Defense Department to study how to diversify Dayton’s economy in anticipation of fewer defense industry jobs in the future, according to the Pentagon.
The two-year grant will draw in nearly a dozen partner organizations and Wright State says it wants more groups to compete for $1.6 million in funds as part of the analysis, dubbed the Dayton Metro Plan for Economic Diversity.
“It’s truly a collaborative effort amongst all the partners to grow the economy,” said Dennis Andersh, Wright State Research Institute executive director and CEO of Wright State Applied Research Corp.
Researchers will focus on technologies created at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base or university research labs in the region that have potential as commercial products, said John Owen, a WSRI manager of the grant.
“Our plan really revolves around the (research and development) assets in the region to grow jobs,” he said. “We’re building a regional continuum in the region that anyone can tap into.”
Wright State University, Montgomery County and the Dayton Development Coalition led the effort to land the funds, officials said.
“In all honesty, there’s been lots of discussion about this, but this is the first time that we’ve really had any significant resources to build the system and ecosystem around moving technology from inside the fence to outside the fence, from defense applications to commercial applications,” Montgomery County Administrator Joseph P. Tuss said.
“We will be able to leverage our community’s support of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base while investing in new opportunities for growth,” Dayton Development Coalition President and CEO Jeff Hoagland said in a statement.
The funds are part of a larger $7.8 million project with Wright State and its partners to find ways to diversify Dayton’s economy, according to the Pentagon.
“This is what our future is about and by getting this $7 million from the Department of Defense it lifts all of our boats,” said Montgomery County Commissioner Deborah A. Lieberman. “… I think one of or mantras for the last eight to 10 years has been to diversify our economy.”
The grant is also meant to help employees transition into the growing fields of unmanned vehicle systems, medical manufacturing and information technology, creating a regional international trade strategy and find ways to sustain the initiative after the grant is depleted, the Defense Department said.
Dayton was eligible for the money because of the high concentration of Wright-Patt employees in the workforce, and the region’s commitment to the 2014 Investing in Manufacturing Communities Partnership designation through the Southwest Ohio Aerospace Region, Wright State officials said.
Wright-Patterson has a $4 billion yearly economic impact, employs more than 26,000 military, civil service and contractor personnel and indirectly supports more than 32,000 jobs off base, Air Force figures show.
The money is in addition to the $4.1 million AFRL said this month it will spend to hire universities and nonprofit organizations to bring more technology out of its labs and into the marketplace to build the industrial base and create jobs.
The U.S. government has pushed federal labs to commercialize more technology.