Economic development officials are looking for new partnerships between Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and the local health care industry.
The Dayton Development Coalition, Wright-Patt and the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association are looking to hammer out ways for the base’s own research and medical assets, including Wright-Patterson Medical Center, Air Force Research Laboratory and the 711th Human Performance Wing, can partner with local hospitals as well as medical research and manufacturing groups.
Hospital CEOs and base officials have been meeting this week to explore more partnerships. Vice President of Aerospace Chris Ford of the DDC said exact details of the partnership have not been hammered out.
Wright-Patt is the largest single-site employer in the region, with 27,500 employees and over $4 billion in economic impact. Tens of thousands are employed in the local hospital groups, including Premier Health and Kettering Health Network, as well as other physician groups, bio companies, medical device companies and manufacturers, which have a further $8 billion economic impact. The DDC says the two industries have the largest potential for growth in the region.
“If we’re strategic and thoughtful and collaborate better I think we can push those development numbers higher,” said Jeff Hoagland, President and CEO of the DDC.
The base, which is dealing with defense budget cuts, is looking for more partnerships to tie it more strongly to the region, Ford said. While Wright-Patt has significant research capabilities, its work with human performance hasn’t been well understood outside of the fence until recently, Hoagland said. With the threats of sequestration or Air Force reorganization, he said it makes sense to get the base to rely more on the community’s large startup and health care industry.
“Shrinking budgets have forced everybody to change their behavior, and it’s really opened up the eyes for the military and Air Force to look to the community in an enduring, more long-term way,” Ford said.
The partnerships should help draw more research companies to Dayton and help existing health care companies here grow more quickly, Hoagland said.
Bryan Bucklew, president and CEO of GDAHA, said partnerships will enhance research opportunities in the area. Many large metro areas have strategies to draw in more research funding and manpower to their areas, and some have formal agreements between their major economic development and health care groups.
“With the emerging technology and development at the base, this allows the companies have a place to go where hospitals, base leaders and economic development folks will all be in the same room working together in a coordinated way,” he said.
Wright-Patt, the Dayton VA Medical Center and other groups have had good relationships with the hospitals, but Bucklew said partnerships would bring more attention to their research assets which have remained largely unknown behind the fence.
“The base has grown and the hospitals have grown, but both industries are undergoing systematic changes in terms of funding, you’re having constrained budgets,” Bucklew said. “Looking for ways to work corroboratively can help those groups as well as businesses associated with their supply chains and research.”