Rep. Steve Austria on Blue Ribbon Commission

It is important now, more than ever, to focus on how our region can be more competitive and bring additional jobs to Ohio. This week,  I joined members of the Blue Ribbon Commission at a meeting held at Wright State University. I appointed the commission to examine how local companies and universities can better position themselves to win more contracts, create more jobs and support Wright Patterson Air Force Base, one of the largest single site employers in the state. It is made up of a broad cross-section of talented and energetic community leaders who have extensive experience both inside and outside the fence, including business leaders and individuals in academia.

When the commission was formed, members were tasked with submitting their recommendations for increasing the number of contracts awarded to local companies, in turn creating more private-sector jobs in the area that can be sustained for years to come. They were asked to look into a wide variety of issues including identifying any impediments to local companies and determining the best business model to receive contracts.

The commission has completed its work and identified 18 specific ways we can enhance regional economic opportunities through partnerships with the business community, academia and government in the Dayton area. John McCance, who is retired Air Force, and Gary Kowal, who has several years of experience in defense contracting, served as co-chairs of the Blue Ribbon Commission and presented the commission’s findings, conclusions and recommendations to the public. Some recommendations highlighted in the report include,

* Utilize social media (a website, or collaborative networking site) to house centralized information to include such items as a calendar of events; detailed information on government requirements; prime/sub contractor opportunities and links to related informational sites.

* Leverage the region’s engineering capabilities and skill base to accelerate subcontractor opportunities with large defense contractors who are involved in the research, development and manufacture of weapon systems acquired by WPAFB.

* Publish the “Corporate Development Education Framework” as a tool to help beginning, intermediate and advanced businesses assess their government contracting maturity and identify areas for improvement.

* Establish a centralized electronic capability for local area businesses having service, R&D, manufacturing, and other capabilities to provide detailed information about their qualifications, capacity and contact information and have it indexed by product and service.

* Encourage the State of Ohio and local governments to support a program, similar to the State of Utah, which provides funded support in the areas of opportunity assessment, strategy, proposal development, contract negotiations, capture and program support.

* Provide access to additional resources and training in the area of proposal writing and preparation.

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