New Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine is showing a campaign promise is a promise you keep.
DeWine has been in office just over a month and has yet to give his State of the State address, but he’s already made a trip to Lima, showing how serious he is about growing the state’s military and aerospace installations. Using the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center as a backdrop on Wednesday, DeWine announced the appointment of retired U.S. Air Force Col. Joseph Zeis Jr. as Ohio’s senior advisor for aerospace and defense.
The cabinet-level position is a first for Ohio. It punctuates the fact that the state’s military installations are an an essential part of Ohio’s economy. For the state to maintain and grow those facilities, it needs to have someone who has a clear understanding of each facility’s role on a federal level and how they can be more competitive with like bases in other states. Col. Zeis is tasked to be that person.
Zeis will report directly to the governor while working with congressional delegations, local elected officials, military personnel and the business community. Other key facilities in Ohio besides the JSMC are Wright-Patterson Air Force Base — which employs 27,ooo in the Dayton area — and NASA Glenn Research Center in Cleveland.
DeWine’s visit came at a positive time for the JSMC. It announced in December its plans to hire some 400 people as the plant works on upgrades for Abrams tanks and Stryker vehicles. The plant is also helping build new prototypes of the Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle.
As DeWine noted, “It’s good news, but we have to make sure that we continue to hear that.”