LIMA — Ohio’s economic development organization JobsOhio has added federal and military installations to its list of strategic industries the agency will focus its retention and expansion efforts on as the state recovers from the coronavirus recession.
Ohio is home to more than 30 federal and military installations, which employ roughly 90,000 Ohioans — including more than 900 workers at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima.
JobsOhio held virtual town halls in Toledo and Lima on Monday to discuss the new initiative, which comes after Gov. Mike DeWine created a cabinet-level position within his administration to focus on Ohio’s military and aerospace installations last year.
Central to that effort is the state’s goal to make Ohio a top destination for military veterans and their families.
The effort is a familiar one in Lima, as Mayor David Berger’s Task Force Lima for decades has brought together local, state and federal leaders with a goal of keeping the JSMC operational.
The task force proposed a similar idea of a long-term bipartisan economic development effort focused on military and federal installations nearly 10 years ago, Mayor David Berger said during the town hall on Monday.
Berger described the new effort as “vital” for the long-term health of Ohio’s military installations like the JSMC.
“There’s just absolutely no question that if Ohio’s going to prosper over time that this sector must become strategic for us,” he said. “Otherwise, Alabaman, Texas, California and Florida will, frankly, eat our lunch.”
One of the key lessons from Task Force Lima, echoed by Ohio Senate President-elect Matt Huffman on Monday, is the importance of staying in front of public officials as administrations and Congressional delegations change to “keep the momentum going.”
“Sometimes, decisions are made in governments simply because someone asked for, they continued to ask and eventually their questions get answered in the affirmative,” he said.