Aerospace Important for Nation and Local Economy
By Congressman Michael Turner
The state of Ohio has a proud legacy of innovation and ingenuity and is presently the home of incredible scientific research and cutting edge technology. Perhaps nowhere has this been more apparent than in aerospace and aeronautics, a field where the two greatest pioneers, Orville and Wilbur Wright, hail from Southwest Ohio. The National Air and Space Association (NASA) celebrates their 50th anniversary this year and this represents an outstanding opportunity to take note of the importance of NASA and the aerospace industry to our nation and our region.
It was not that long ago that the world’s attention was captured by the race to space between the United States of America and the former Soviet Union. The newspaper headlines and nightly television newscasts were dominated by feats like that of Ohio’s own John Glenn, who became the first American to orbit the Earth. The space race was recognized as being won by America when Neil Armstrong of Wapakoneta, Ohio became the first man to set foot on the moon in 1969. These feats only added to the historical legacy of aviation in Ohio, where powered flight was virtually created in the bicycle shop of Orville and Wilbur Wright. Ohio is also home to Hap Arnold, the father of the United States Air Force who was taught to fly by the Wright Brothers, and Guy Bluford, the first African-American astronaut to fly in space.
While Ohio should be very proud of its tremendous historical legacy of aerospace innovation, the future of the state is also closely tied to the aeronautics and aerospace industry. Our home of Southwest Ohio is home to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base which is the largest and most complex Air Force base in the country. Wright-Patterson is an important economic engine for our community and for the State of Ohio. It is the largest single-site employer in the state and has an economic impact of nearly $3 billion every year. It is estimated that over 20,000 people are employed inside the gates of Wright-Patterson and another 20,000 are employed by private companies that do business with the base.
Because of this enormous economic benefit, Wright-Patterson is crucial not only for the communities adjacent to the base but for all of Southwest Ohio. Our community recently won a significant victory in the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) process by bringing an additional $230 million and over 1,000 jobs to Wright-Patterson. Later this month, I will guide a delegation of community leaders from Clinton and Highland Counties on a tour of Wright-Patterson to show them all that is happening at the base and to look for ways that their communities can participate.
Obviously, Wright-Patterson is important to our regional economy but Ohio’s role in the aerospace industry stretches even past the base. According to the Ohio Department of Development, there are over 600 companies in Ohio that have aerospace ties and 1,200 that sell to the aerospace industry. These companies employ over 66,000 Ohioans.
The work done throughout the state of Ohio in the aerospace industry strengthens our military and our economy. I have consistently supported recognition of the important role that flight has played in the history of our state and I will continue to support policies that promote the role of aerospace in our regional economy.