WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB, Ohio (WDTN) — Local leaders painted a positive picture for the future of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base but say they can’t be certain whether it will add or lose jobs in the next five years.
At a community meeting held by the Wright-Patt 2020 group, the word few like to even mention was much talked about.
“There’s that “B-word” I’ve told people I hate called BRAC,” says Retired General Lester Lyles who was the one in charge of Air Force Materiel Command but is now co-chair of the Wright-Patt 2020 group.
BRAC stands for Base Closure and Realignment Commission.
The last one in 2005 led to more jobs at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.
Another one isn’t even scheduled but insiders think it’s likely one will be held in the next five years. It could move jobs to or from Wright-Patt.
That’s why leaders are working to position Wright-Patt to gain jobs, but BRAC isn’t the only threat.
The base is set to lose 372 positions in the fall because of military wide budget cuts.
“There’s the other statement of death from a thousand cuts,” Lyles says. “There’s always a chance for missions to come to Wright-Patterson or missions to erode from Wright-Patt.”
But even between BRAC and budget cuts leaders had a largely positive outlook for the base, which they point out grew from 16,000 jobs to 27,000 in the last 15 years despite some ups and downs.
“When you look at the missions on this base, the technology base around the base itself and the community I think the chances are pretty good there could be job growth,” Lyles says.
That’s something surrounding communities, like Fairborn, which were hurt by the furloughs caused by sequestration last year are counting on.
“Our businesses are telling us things are coming back but they’re coming back slowly,” says Fairborn City Manager Deborah McDonnell.
Another wild card in all of this is if sequestration budget cuts return in 2016.
They are what led to the furloughs last year, but the impact was lessened this year through budget changes.