Dayton meets first step to bring Space Command to Wright-Patt

U.S. Space Force image
U.S. Space Force image

Ohio’s application to bring the U.S. Space Command to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base has met the Pentagon’s screening criteria and has moved forward to the evaluation phase, the U.S. Air Force told the Dayton Development Coalition.

It’s a key step in the region’s quest to persuade Pentagon decision-makers to move the headquarters of Space Command from Colorado Springs, Colo. to Wright-Patterson.

At stake are up to 1,400 personnel and jobs possibly shifting to Ohio, as well as an associated number of contractors and allied businesses.

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“We look forward to sharing with the Air Force why the Dayton region and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base are the best choice to host Space Command headquarters,” Elaine Bryant, the coalition’s executive vice president for aerospace and defense, said in a statement. “We have the workforce, quality of life, and strong support for our military families. We also have Wright-Patt’s expansive infrastructure and strong connection to the Space Command mission with organizations like the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory.”

In June, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine endorsed Wright-Patterson and Dayton’s overall bid for the headquarters, giving the governor’s support for one location in the state of Ohio.

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In a letter sent to the assistant secretary of the Air Force, Gov. DeWine endorsed the nomination. A letter signed by 22 area mayors and four county commission presidents was also submitted expressing mutual support for Dayton’s bid.

In May, the Pentagon said it would accept nominations for the headquarters’ location based on defined criteria. Coalition advocates have said since then that Dayton met all of the screening requirements.

“This advancement of Wright-Patt in the selection process of U.S. Space Command is an important step forward that I have advocated strongly for,” U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said in a statement. “As the home of invention of flight and a pioneer in space travel and defense, Wright-Patt has the foundation to host the U.S. Space Command.”

Among the criteria laid out by the Pentagon in its search for the headquarters: Communities should be within 25 miles of a military base, within the top 150 most populous “metropolitan statistical areas,” and score at least 50 out of 100 points on the American Association of Retired Persons’ Livability Index, among other criteria.

Dayton clearly has a military base nearby. As of July 2019, the Dayton-Kettering metro area was ranked at 107 in terms of population. And according to the AARP Index, the Dayton area scores a 53.

The Dayton area has a “viable” shot at winning the national competition for the U.S. Space Command headquarters, House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy said in a visit to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base this month.

“If you look at history, flight was created here,” McCarthy said at a brief press conference outside the Hope Hotel and Conference Center on the base. “This place is definitely viable. Wright-Patt, they’re definitely in the running.”

He added: “If you look at the work that Wright-Patt does, they’re definitely in the running. But we want to make sure that it’s the right place, that it has the right synergy, and I’ll let the experts take all of that into consideration.”

The location decision announcement is expected early next year.