AFRL commander says local businesses help fuel lab’s success

Job engine powered by AFRL tech transfer and others

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Air Force Research Laboratory commander Gen. Tom Masiello credited small business, industry and the Dayton area in particular for making the lab’s work possible.

“I don’t know if it’s in the water here, but there’s something special that you have here,” Masiello said Tuesday in the keynote to the Dayton Development Coalition’s annual meeting at the Schuster Center downtown.

Based at Wright-Patterson Force Base, AFRL outsources some 75 percent of its annual $4 billion budget to industry, academia and global allies.

About half of AFRL’s 10,000 workers, with five of its technology directorates, are found at Wright-Patterson. The base, with more than 27,000 military and civilian employees, remains Ohio’s biggest single-site employer.

Jeff Hoagland, coalition president and chief executive, struck a familiar note, warning that the base must be protected.

“Please do not forget the word ‘BRAC,’” Hoagland said, referring to the Base Realignment and Closure process that closes or shrinks domestic military installations deemed unnecessary or too large. “I know people do not like that word. But it’s the truth.”

Sooner or later, the federal government will embark on another BRAC process, Hoagland predicted.

Work at the base and AFRL boosts development in Dayton, Masiello and other said. AFRL and partners like it helped fuel what the coalition said was $568.9 million in new capital investment in the coalition’s 12-county region in 2015.

That investment meant 3,136 new jobs created last year, with the retention of 11,131 existing jobs, the coalition said. New payroll reached $138.8 million.

“Your DNA is all about innovation, which really helps our mission,” Masiello said.

AFRL’s focuses on war-fighting needs. The general spoke of perfecting hypersonic travel — more than five times the speed of sound — not only for weapons but air-frames. He mentioned laser physics and wearable sensor technology so sophisticated, it makes Fitbit bands look like “antiques.”

“It’s probably exactly what you imagine,” Masiello said of AFRL’s work. “It’s exciting. It’s fast-paced.”

Last month, coalition officials told this newspaper there were 45 potential development or expansion projects in the pipeline, representing 8,300 jobs and $1.2 billion in capital investment for its 12-county region.

These projects that could be expected within the next 24 months.

The ramping up of hiring at Procter & Gamble’s Union distribution center and Fuyao Glass America in Moraine were particular highlights in 2015, coalition leaders said. So were job commitments by Navistar, CareSource, Clopay, DMAX and others.

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