Experts say Ohio could land more defense jobs

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Turner organized a two day Ohio Defense Forum to look for ways to shore up and build out the military assets in Ohio.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Ohio is home to 63,500 military-related jobs that pump $11 billion into the state economy each year but as big as that is, it could increase with the right investments and collaborations, according to U.S. Rep. Mike Turner.

“Our opportunity to grow the impact in this state is significant. Also, if you look at the national security contributions of Ohio, our ability to be more relevant and to support the men and women who are serving is also something that could be enhanced,” Turner said.

Turner organized a two-day forum at Ohio State University with military, community, business and political leaders that looked for ways to bring more defense jobs and research money to Ohio. One path is to build connections between Ohio universities and federal defense installations, he said.

The defense forum is also a strategic hedge against Ohio losing jobs if there were another Base Realignment and Closure process — BRAC. Hundreds of installations have been closed through five BRAC rounds held since 1988. The most recent round was held in 2005. While military leaders have called for another BRAC, members of Congress have resisted, given it may lead to closures in their own states.

Panelists at the forum said that while a BRAC is needed, it shouldn’t be done just to save money but should be realign military resources to fit the strategy for addressing the biggest threats facing America — such as more aggressive actions from China and Russia, cyber attacks, radical extremists in non-nation states or climate change.

Lucian Niemeyer, who served on the professional staff of the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Forces, said Ohio should maintain vigilance on a national stage to make sure the capabilities of military installations in the state are well understood. His advice? Start planning and know where Ohio installations are vulnerable and which have growth potential.

George Schlossberg, an attorney for the Association of Defense Communities and a former Pentagon official, said he believes that in the next round of BRAC, jobs will move to installations that have excess capacity. His advice? Ohio installations should do a full analysis of their excess capacities now.

U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, defense is the largest category of discretionary federal spending and it’s important to raise Ohio’s profile for military and defense spending. “When you’re dealing with something this large, intervention matters.”