The defense industry has a $13.7 billion economic impact in Ohio, accounting for 66,400 jobs across seven installations and hundreds of contractors located throughout the state, but without a statewide advocate for the industry, that business could be in jeopardy, according to speakers at last week’s Ohio Defense Forum in Columbus. “We need to get past the regionalism and look at the ways we can have a strategic plan and overall goals and objectives for our state, so we can have more access, more jobs … and increased national security,” said Rep. Mike Turner (R). “Other states are organized and operate as a team.”
A number of cities, counties and regional groups are promoting local defense assets, but a statewide advocate could leverage resources already being expended to produce greater benefits for Ohio, reports Columbus Business First. “The state of Ohio has no collective plan. We need to come together to make sure we keep the infrastructure and have a plan to grow it,” said James Dignan, CEO of the Youngstown/Warren Regional Chamber.
A newly formed state panel is working to strengthen Ohio’s defense presence. Last year, the Ohio Military Facilities Commission awarded $5 million to projects benefitting Air National Guard bases in Mansfield and Toledo.
Air National Guard photo by Airman Alexis Wade