Editor’s note: This is the second of a two-part story about the Air Force Community Partnership Initiative. See yesterday’s issue or go online to read more about this event.
FAIRBORN — Local and regional leaders shared ideas and opportunities for potential community partnerships during the first Wright-Patterson Community Partnership Day on Thursday.
Col. Cassie Barlow, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander kicked off the Air Force Community Partnership Initiative with two briefings Feb. 20.
The first briefing explained the Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) process and identified parcels of land on base being offered for potential development. The second was an overview of the service’s partnering objectives and process followed by facilitated breakout sessions to generate ideas.
Col. Barlow began the brainstorming session by offering some examples of needs and resources at WPAFB, including education and training for workforce development, recreational facilities and opportunities, and child development centers.
“We consistently have a waiting list of more than 100 kids. This is a huge need for us,” Barlow said.
In turn, the base can provide many training and internship opportunities to local high school and college students.
“We have a lot of really smart people at Wright-Patterson who can provide internships. This is one of the largest capabilities we haven’t delved into,” said Barlow.
Community participants also shared some of their current partnerships and some ideas they hope to develop.
Greene Memorial Hospital and Soin Medical Center president and CEO Terry Burns explained the Kettering Health Network’s history of collaboration with the base. One example is the enhanced use lease with Kettering Medical Center for the Hyperbaric chamber at Wright-Patterson Medical Center.
“There are specialists needed in the county we know are on the base,” Burns said. “We just need to figure out how we can leverage those specialists to cover the needs in Greene County.”
WPAFB has many continuing education partnerships with local higher learning facilities such as Wright State University, University of Dayton and Clark State Community College. There are opportunities in the medical field as well as workforce training and professional development.
This is also something that interests local high schools such as the Fairborn Digital Academy, which has 161 students from a 50-mile radius.
“Seventy-percent of our students are economically disadvantaged,” said FDA public relations/grant writer Molly Bordonaro Hall. “They need mentors to help with job readiness and career training.”
During the workshop, participants broke off into four specific groups based on their field of interest. They were tasked with brainstorming ideas to start the process for specific partnership agreements.
Fairborn Economic Development Director Chris Wimsatt attended the EUL briefing and the research, test, development, life cycle and supply chain breakout session.
“Overall it was a good start,” he said. “There are many mutually beneficial projects and functions we could partner with the base. There are a lot of things they are looking to move off the base that could potentially land in Fairborn if the development pans out. If they can save money while offering the same level of services to their airmen and the private sector can make money, it’s a win-win.”
According to Wimsatt, the city and base have been talking about potential development agreements for the last few months. There are several projects in the works with interested tenants and developers.
“The EUL program is something they’ve been very proactive about but I do think it may be a struggle in some areas,” said Wimsatt. “It will take a unique situation and parcel to make it work because there is a lot more red tape with development. But I do give credit to the base for trying their best to really open up.”
Fairborn Public Administrative Services Director Pete Bales attended the infrastructure and services breakout session. A big focus in this discussion was recreational opportunities.
“The base has a lot of state of the art recreational assets, such as an Olympic-sized pool and indoor tennis courts, that are not being used to their full potential,” Bales said. “If we can open those facilities up to the surrounding communities we can offer programs and classes that their military families can attend. A hurtle we have to overcome in this process would be ways to get people access.”
The city is also exploring different ways to combine services, such as street repair, snow removal, water and sewer services and equipment maintenance.
“We have excess capacity to supply areas of the base with water and sewer services,” said Bales. “We also have the ability to work on emergency vehicles, so we could service their security and fire vehicles.”
Additional workshops will be held in the coming weeks where potential partners will hammer out specific agreements with the base.
Amanda Crowe may be reached at 878-3993 ext. 134.