Lima's formal tie to the U.S. military appears to be at real risk as the federal government looks for ways to cut spending. No longer is the concern about a work slowdown or even a temporary shutdown at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center, but now rather it's about a permanent, irreversible closure.President Barack Obama wants to greatly reduce military spending. Many members of Congress, particularly on the Republican side, oppose military cuts, but they do want to reduce federal spending. The Lima plant very well could fall victim to spending cuts.Initially, that seemed to mean the possibility of a temporary shutdown at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center. Even if Congress approves what currently is being sought for the Buckeye Road facility — $181 million for 33 tanks — the slowdown in work will mean up 200 layoffs in 2013. Without that funding, Abrams tank production at the Lima plant could stop altogether in June 2014.If production stops, community leaders fear, it's never going to restart. There simply would be too many obstacles to overcome to resume tank production — or any other kind of production — at the Lima plant.Task Force Lima and General Dynamics estimate it would cost $1.4 billion just to restart production — for what would be a $400 million contract for new tanks. No one, not even the federal government, is likely to spend $1.4 billion for a $400 million contract — and that cost is before the first tank is produced. The Army, which owns the General Dynamics-operated Lima facility, figures the cost would be much lower than the task force/company estimate. But government estimates being what they are, Task Force Lima members are justified in their concern.Beyond cost, there would be serious logistical problems in restarting tank production in Lima. Task Force Lima members believe it would be impossible for others to replace the expertise of Lima's workers. It's also worth considering if that know-how could be replaced locally after several years without production, as skilled workers retire or take new jobs.Also, the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center is a rarity in military production: government-owned but operated by General Dynamics. A lot of military work is done through government-owned and -operated depots. The Army wouldn't be keen on returning to the current setup in Lima after bringing any such work in-house.“A temporary shutdown is a permanent shutdown,” said Lima Mayor David Berger, who serves as co-chairman of Task Force Lima. “There won't be a restart.”Fortunately, Task Force Lima has been working to save the local facility since the last time it was seriously at risk — during the base realignment and closure process in 2004-05. The group has made a lot of contacts in the Pentagon and in Congress, and all of them will be needed. Also, to their credit, Ohio's congressional Republicans and Democrats alike are working to keep the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center operating. The local task force also is working with community leaders in other Ohio locations with defense facilities to preserve what this state has.It's important not to let the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center close for any scheduled amount of time. If the plant is mothballed, it's as good as gone. Lima cannot afford that loss. Just as importantly, and what Pentagon and administration officials need to understand, it's unlikely the country can afford it either.
Tara Cutlip, 21 and pregnant with her second child, was shot and killed Saturday in her Bahama Drive home. Loved ones gather in front of Tara's home to remember her and speak out against domestic violence.