LIMA — Relying on foreign military sales to keep the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center afloat is a risky proposition.
Task Force LIMA knows it, and it’s the latest message the group is trying to communicate to those in Washington, D.C. who think that work can sustain the plant until a new version of the Abrams battle tank goes into production.
The task force met Thursday, discussing work General Dynamics is doing at the JSMC for Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Egypt. Nearly all of the work happening at the facility is for foreign sales, General Dynamics Plant Manager Keith Deters said, but the tank production is about to drop again, from about 12 a month to 10 a month.
General Dynamics does not deal directly with foreign countries. The United States government sells to other countries and then puts in the orders. The contracts are often on-again, off-again propositions and always take some time to develop.
The task force also discussed:
• The federal government shutdown meant that the task force did not make an in-district visit to U.S. Rep. David Joyce, R-Painesville. The group had planned to visit Joyce at an Abrams supplier in his district on Oct. 4.
• The task force spent considerable time discussing a social media strategy for the group. Competitors have them, Berger said, and Task Force LIMA should as well. The group is going to evaluate what makes sense to best market information to people it is trying to reach, such as decision makers in Washington, D.C. The task force, through its Facebook page, will reach out to the Ohio congressional delegation. The group will also ask people who visit the plant to post pictures and information about those visits.
• The grant through the Office of Economic Adjustment is delayed, but expected to get back on track. The delay stems from two things, task force members said. First, the office is closed because of the federal government shut down. Second, the task force couldn’t meet the extremely tight timeline to get funded in the 2013 fiscal year, and is now focused on submitting the grant for funding in fiscal year 2014.