The New Face of Wright-Patt
7:40 am
Tue May 31, 2011

BRAC’s Economic Potential

The mission of the 711th Human Performance Wing is to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of military forces using a combination of education, consultation, and research. Businesses, both large and small, help provide that mission-support, but first they’ve got to compete for a piece of the economic pie.  Jerry Kenney reports on the economic potential of BRAC.

The technology research being consolidated at the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patt is the stuff Science Fiction is made of.

“Well, I do love the Batman Program,” says Tom Wells, Director of the 711th Human Performance Wing at Wright-Patt. “I love that it’s technology that’s been transferred to the war-fighter that’s really made a difference in today’s environment. That’s an exciting program.”

The BATMAN initiative is just one of the technology programs being consolidated at Wright-Patt. Their home will be the new Centers of Excellence for Human Performance, and Sensors Research. Unmanned Vehicles, spatial disorientation, acoustic research, and centrifuge applications; the list goes on… The jobs are big and require a lot of brain power. Wells says, Wright-Patt can’t do it alone.

“There’ll be people who support us in research contracts or support contracts. And there always tends to be a spin off as you start to develop intellectual capital in the area.”

That intellectual capital can be found in any number of companies – from local, small, independent contracting firms, to companies that operate on a global scale. Tom Fuhrman is Senior VP President for Booz Allen Hamilton, an American company with offices in five countries, employing more than 25,000 people. Fuhrman heads the technology and research support for work already taking place at the Air Force Research Lab.

“We have a presence in all ten technology directorates, in all the major locations, and the work we do is engineering work, or support of the science and technology programs, the research and development activities of the lab and able to help them as a support contractor. ”

Before businesses can offer the kind of support Furman is talking about – they’ve got to win the contract. Furman says it doesn’t matter if you’re a mega company with global resources, or a small business that may need to partner with other firms, the contract bidding process can be tough.

“I think this is the business, cause every time there’s a competitive bid, it’s no small task to find the right strategy, build the right team, write the proposal, and then execute when the job is won.”

Connie Sawdey owns one of the smaller companies aggressively looking for new business from BRAC, and says the bidding process is “very competitive.”

Sawdey Solution Services, founded in 2001, has just fifty employees. Most of them work out of a small but elegant office space on Research Park Drive – a short distance from Booz Allen. Sawdey says businesses have a few things to think about when bidding on a contract.

“Most of the work right now is lowest cost acceptable, so you’re looking for how can you keep your overhead costs down, how can you operate on a minimal amount of profit to be able to bid and win the contracts and then get the work to provide good support and provide good jobs for good people.”

While the Department of Defense is actually Sawdey’s biggest client, that hasn’t gotten her any new BRAC contracts. But she says she’ll be ready when that new business comes through.

“I think a lot of folks in Dayton are hanging their hat on, as this work comes to the local area, when you bring people to the community and jobs to the community, then there’s other services that come with that… it will be invaluable.”

The benefit for any company getting new business from BRAC is that it gives them the potential to grow. Tom Wells says that’s more people earning, saving and spending; the stuff economies are made of.

“Then there about 200 support contractor as well. Some of those companies aren’t headquarted in Dayton so they’re moving operations here to support us. And then there’s the 5000 students a year-.”

Those students will be part of the new Air Force School of Aerospace Medicine that’s relocating to Wright-Patt as part of BRAC. We’ll learn more about that tomorrow – and how the relationship between Wright-Patt and Wright State is bringing new opportunities to the area.

As a result of BRAC- billions of dollars will make its way into the local economy – construction and research contracts, payroll, education and other indirect services. But the real economic impact will more likely be determined in the years ahead, as slices of the economic pie are doled out to a community already hungry for more.