Local efforts take aim at aeronautic education, economic opportunity

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine has spoken out recently about the importance of education and an available skilled workforce to strengthen the Ohio economy. It’s a major part of his proposed state budget.

Steps taken last week by the Springfield City Commission are directly aimed at positioning the Springfield area to help lead the way in both efforts - educational opportunities with a new career pathway and economic development in conjunction with Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport.

Commissioners gave a green light for rezoning of land on the Clark State College campus, part of a process to enable construction of a new Global Impact STEM Academy facility to provide career pathways for jobs in aviation and aerospace.

Measures were also approved that will expand and enhance infrastructure at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport, with grants from the Federal Aviation Administration covering the majority of the multi-million dollar investment cost.

Advancing aviation and aeronautics education

The Global Impact STEM Academy of Springfield recently announced expansion initiatives that include construction of an $16 million, 30,000-square-foot educational facility in partnership with the West Central Ohio Port Authority.

The “Upper Academy” for grades 10-12 will offer students training in the cutting-edge air mobility field that has taken flight at Springfield-Beckley, where the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence (NAAMCE) is now under construction.

Both facilities will be engaged in educational and experimental efforts associated with electronic vertical take-off and landing vehicles (eVTOLs), considered key to travel technology in years to come and anticipated to play a significant role in the advancement of aviation.

Students who complete the Global Impact STEM program in the field of aviation and aerospace will be able to continue on and complete a degree with Clark State College to prepare them for jobs in a field JobOhio projects to expand rapidly, potentially adding 15,000 new jobs across Ohio by 2045.

The STEM project is projected to be completed and open for study in 2024.

Federal funds help advance airport upgrades

The city of Springfield and Ohio Department of Transportation have jointly have committed to expenditures of $157,000 each for improvements at Springfield-Beckley Municipal Airport that will amount to a fraction of the overall improvement costs.

“That’s a local match that will help us maintain a critical runway,” Assistant City Manager and Director of Economic Development Tom Franzen told the commission. “It’s a really good return on our investment.”

The majority of funding will come from the Federal Aviation Administration, which will contribute $5.2 million for design, engineering, construction and management services associated with runway and lighting improvements.

Airport Manager Seth Timmerman said the runway is used for crosswind training and provides a landing site that enables pilots to avoid rerouting to another airport under certain adverse landing conditions.

Timmerman also said the National Advanced Air Mobility Center of Excellence construction is progressing rapidly and a grand opening is anticipated in September.

JobsOhio calls the center a state-of-the-art facility and “statewide asset designed to bring stakeholders together from academia, industry and government across Ohio.”

“Because this is a national center, it really sets us apart, taking a central role in testing, development and research at the airport,” Timmerman said. “Our area was the birthplace of flight, and with NAAMCE, we will be at the center of the next evolution of flight.”

According to Timmerman, that includes opportunities in hypersonic, hydrogen and electronic aircraft.

JobsOhio projects the experimental eVTOL research and development at Springfield-Beckley may change the way we travel, commute and ship cargo.

According to the JobsOhio website, Ohio already has 38,000 aerospace and aviation professionals working and the state is home to 540 aerospace and aviation companies.

JobsOhio projects the emerging air mobility technologies will generate $1.9 trillion in global economic impact and a gain of $14 billion in economic impact in Ohio by 2045.

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