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Lawmaker wants to increase aviation research in Ohio

TIFFANY L. PARKS
Special to the Legal News

Published: July 1, 2014

A bill that would create an aerospace and technology study committee has particular importance for its sponsor.

“As a former commander in the Air Force, this bill is not just practical, it’s personal,” said Rep. Rick Perales, R-Beavercreek.

“I have seen first hand the opportunities that the state has missed in the aerospace and technology industries due to lack of communication, knowledge and coordination. I have personally worked with and visited aerospace and technology-related entities across the state that are eager to both participate and facilitate the creation and goals of the committee.”

House Bill 292 would establish a permanent 21-member Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Technology Committee to study and develop strategies to promote and foster research and development in the aerospace and technology industry.

The bill was unanimously passed by the Senate last week after unanimously clearing the House in December.

The committee also would advise the proposed Federal-Military Jobs Commission.

“Aerospace and technology industries represent significant economic sectors of the Ohio economy,” Perales said, noting that 17 percent of total U.S. employment in aviation and aerospace is located in Ohio.

“This committee will develop a comprehensive effort to highlight, coordinate and promote industries across the state. The effort will include connecting aerospace and technology partnering opportunities, often unknown or disjointed between academia, industry and military.”

In moving through the legislative process, the bill was amended to include provisions to establish the Federal-Military Jobs Program.

The nine-member FMJC would be an offshoot of the program charged with developing and maintaining an ongoing strategy for retention and growth of federal-military jobs and associated private-sector jobs in Ohio.

If HB 292 is signed into law, the committee would be required to publish an annual report by July 1 of each year, starting in 2015.

A fiscal analysis states that although the bill does not explicitly declare so, the 21 committee members will presumably not be compensated for their services.

“With Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio’s largest single site employer and strong relationships with various entities across the state, I feel it is my duty to help connect these industries and enhance Ohio as leader in aerospace and technology in the country,” Perales said, adding that he intentionally wanted the bill to be vetted outside of military and veterans affairs committees in the legislature.

“Ultimately (this bill is) about economics and opportunities. There is too much at stake to have missed opportunities, which is why I believe it is past the time that we should take advantage of our resources and create an official committee that solely focuses on these growing industries.”

Marty McGann of Greater Cleveland Partnership offered proponent testimony for the bill before the Senate State Government Oversight and Reform committee.

“The GCP is no stranger to the needs of Ohio’s aerospace industry. Our membership includes a wide range of aerospace, aviation and technology companies,” he said.

“Aerospace and aviation is a significant economic driver to the state’s economy, employing over 130,000 workers. Our state is the top supplier to both Boeing and Airbus. The NASA Glenn Research Center directly employs over 3,200 highly paid and highly skilled Ohioans.”

McGann noted that Canada is Ohio’s No. 1 trading partner with exports to our northern neighbors exceeding $19 billion, which includes $1.6 billion in exports of engines and turbines and $373 million in aircraft.

“HB 292 will create and help codify the work that has taken place on an ad hoc basis across the state by creating a permanent committee to study and develop strategies to promote, encourage communication and resource sharing and foster research and development in the aerospace and technology industry,” he said.

“With the creation of this study committee, we would encourage their joint collaboration with interested parties across the state, as well as with other state appointed and sanctioned bodies currently operating within the fields of aerospace and technology.”

Specifically, McGann said the committee should work collaboratively with the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Council and Ohio’s Third Frontier program.

“The OAAC has worked diligently to validate the impact of Ohio’s aerospace and aviation industries and organizations and to advocate for their advancement,” he said.

“Ohio’s Third Frontier Commission and its advisory board have actively engaged in the advancement and funding of high-growth technologies and technology-based companies. By committing and combining the resources of the Aerospace and Technology Study Committee, along with those of the Ohio Aerospace and Aviation Council and the Third Frontier program, the state of Ohio will demonstrate to the state, the nation and the world that Ohio understands the importance of the aerospace and technology industries that impact our economy.”

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