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Community wish-list seeks millions

Development, business and civic leaders have identified tens of millions of dollars worth of projects they believe will strengthen the area’s economy and well-being.

The projects include $20 million for Air Force human performance research, $10 million for rapid manufacture of advanced composite structures at the University of Dayton Research Institute, and nearly $9 million for rapid manufacturing of metal parts for the military by a Miamisburg firm.

The recently released “Dayton Region Priority Development and Advocacy Committee 2012-2013 project recommendations” seeks government and grant support for a variety of local projects, including restoring the former Wright airplane factory in West Dayton, an Unmanned Aerial Systems hangar complex at the Springfield airport and a Sinclair Community College “Life and Health Science Center,” among other proposals.

Though the Dayton Development Coalition administers the list’s creation, it’s not a coalition wish list, said Kelly Geers, the coalition’s government programs director. The recommendations came from across the region.

“Speaking with one voice — that’s really what it’s all about,” Geers said Thursday.

Suggestions for worthwhile projects were solicited last year, vetted by six review panels and reviewed again by an overarching committee, she said.

What is most sought are “priority projects,” or ideas that would have a significant, community-wide impact, Geers said. Lower-priority proposals are ranked as “recommended” or “reviewed.”

Geers said there is a “tighter fiscal environment” today.

“There are no guarantees on any of this,” she said. “You never really know.”

Some of these projects have received partial funding from other sources.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, in the past has praised the process that produces these recommendations as being remarkably united.

“This permits our community to come together in a strategic plan that can be implemented on the federal, state and local levels,” Turner said.

The recommendations also cut across different industries, allowing businesses to put aside competition to suggest what they feel would strengthen the community. “We see them all as complementary,” Turner said.

Turner said it was too soon to speak definitively about what would draw funding and what wouldn’t. His staff is reviewing the ideas and coalition members will have their annual “fly-in” to Washington, D.C. to help hone the recommendations.

But Turner noted that projects that appear on the list in more than one year have a better shot. “As projects mature, it enhances their success,” he said.

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