Businesses around Wright-Patt preparing for ‘trickle-down disaster’


Across Fairborn and Riverside, business owners and city officials are watching the sequestration situation closely, wondering how many Wright-Patterson Air Force Base employees would be furloughed and what the local impact would be.

“It makes me very nervous,” said Tony Spaziani, owner of Giovanni’s Restaurant e Ristoranti Italiano, a Fairborn mainstay for 60 years. “This is trickle-down disaster.”

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base could furlough up to 13,000 civilian employees for 22 days beginning in April. Those civilian employees could be notified by mid-March, a Pentagon official said Wednesday.

The base has not determined whether the days would be consecutive or one day a week through the end of the fiscal year. The unpaid time off work is expected to be equivalent to a 20 percent pay reduction between April and September.

Wright-Patt is the state’s largest single-site employer with more than 29,700 military and civilian employees and a $4.7 billion annual economic impact, according to a recent report.

Spaziani said that downtown businesses are still trying to recover from the re-routing of Ohio 444. The news that thousands of employees could see their salaries cut by a fifth is even more worrisome, he said.

“This is the most nervousness that I have felt,” said Spaziani, who has owned the restaurant since 1994. He said regular customers who work at the base have been telling him they plan to brown-bag it more often.

Chris Wimsatt, Fairborn’s economic development director, said the news “certainly isn’t good for the momentum that we’re building.” But the impact will be felt beyond the city limits, he said.

“It’s really a regional issue,” Wimsatt said. “The thing with our military base, it’s a very large and well-integrated regional facility. It doesn’t hurt one community. It hurts a lot of communities.”

Paul Newman, executive director of the Fairborn Area Chamber of Commerce, said the impact to the city’s businesses will come down to priorities — whether base employees decide to pack their lunch or still eat their meals at area restaurants.

“It’s a difficult thing to evaluate what exactly they’re going to do,” Newman said. “We’re still cautiously optimistic it’s not going to have a severe impact to us in the city.”

Riverside City Manager Bryan Chodkowski said the city projects to lose $60,000 in income tax revenue this year if the furloughs happen, but that number could change depending on which employees are impacted.

Earlier this month, Riverside finance director Thomas Garrett said the city received $27,300 in December 2012 from base employees who live in Riverside. That figure is what the city receives on average per month, he said.

“Without a doubt, it’s going to have an impact, especially on those types of local businesses that rely on people spending discretionary money,” Chodkowski said. “Retail, restaurants — they’re going to feel that.”

At Tickets Pub & Eatery, just down Main Street from Giovanni’s, Wright-Patterson employees make up 75 percent of the lunch crowd, according to owner John Zavakos.

“It’s very huge,” Zavakos said. “I think everybody in Fairborn would tell you the same thing.”


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Military

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: What we know about Wright Patt
GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN: What we know about Wright Patt

U.S. lawmakers are in session today but no deal is in sight to prevent an extended government shutdown. The National Museum of the U.S. Air Force closed Saturday and other local governmental institutions, including Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, will be closed Monday as Republicans and Democrats have failed to reach a deal to fund governmental operations...
Shutdown: Uncertainty plagues civil servants, WPAFB workers, businesses
Shutdown: Uncertainty plagues civil servants, WPAFB workers, businesses

Employees at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base will report to work on Monday for further instructions. On Main Street in downtown Fairborn Saturday night there were a lot of questions about the partial shutdown, from workers who may be at risk of furlough to businesses those workers visit. “It’s definitely uncertainty,” Casey Hudson...
Wright Patt’s Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine marks 100th
Wright Patt’s Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine marks 100th

Filled with life-like medical mannequins, dark cargo plane fuselages and a centrifuge that spins humans in circles at high speed, the Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine is unlike most schools. One of the biggest prizes gained at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in recent years, the school marked its 100th anniversary in ceremonies Friday. The $194...
Threat of government shutdown wearing on workers
Threat of government shutdown wearing on workers

The specter of a partial federal government shutdown looms at midnight Friday, but many federal employees feel “immune” to the threat of being sent home in a repeated cycle of last-minute stopgap spending measures to avert a shutdown, union leaders say. “I think employees are actually getting immune to it,” said Troy Tingey...
First exercise of new year set at Wright Patt
First exercise of new year set at Wright Patt

Wright-Patterson will launch its first base-wide exercise of 2018 between Jan. 29 to Feb.5, authorities say. RELATED: Will a shutdown happen? Wright-Patt in holding pattern Base personnel and visitors may be delayed getting through or out of gateways at times during the security exercise, officials said. RELATED: Ohio fighter jet unit heads to Baltic...
More Stories