Governor, lawmakers urge U.S. Space Command to consider Ohio for its new headquarters

The Special Air Mission (SAM) 26000, U.S. President John F. Kennedy's Air Force One, sits on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in the Presidential Gallery on November 20, 2013 in Dayton, Ohio at the National Air Force Museum at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. (Photo by Matt Sullivan/Getty Images)

Ohio lawmakers are shooting for the stars. 

The state Senate passed a resolution Wednesday urging the U.S. Space Command to ground its new headquarters in the Buckeye State, following Gov. Mike DeWine’s endorsement on Tuesday.

The U.S. Space Command is the newest branch of the U.S. Department of Defense, chartered to conduct operations in, from and to space to protect U.S. interests. In mid-May, the command announced it was accepting nominations for communities to host its permanent base; the U.S. Space Command has operated out of Colorado since its inception in August 2019. 

The resolution — sponsored by Sen. Bob Hackett, whose district encompasses Clark, Greene and Madison Counties — cited Ohio’s “unparalleled historical link with pioneers of aerospace and space technology,” and the state’s heavy-hand in the space industry. 

The greater-Dayton area houses the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, which memorializes aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright, who are credited with building the first successful airplanes. Several aeronautics institutions operate out of Wright-Patterson, including the National Air and Space Intelligence Center — a unit of the Department of Defense that synthesizes foreign air and space threats — and the Air Force Research Laboratory. 

“It’s a powerful combination and a synergy that you can’t find anywhere else,” DeWine said of the region. The governor sent a letter of support to the assistant secretary of the Air Force on Tuesday, following the nomination of the greater-Dayton region by Beavercreek Mayor Bob Stone. An additional 22 mayors and four county commission presidents sent a letter expressing their mutual support for the project. 

“The secretary of defense has confirmed that the work being done at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base is critically important to our National Defense Strategy in the space domain,” Dayton-area U.S. Rep. Mike Turner said in a press release.  

“The Space Force should utilize our community for its unique capabilities and establish the U.S. Space Command headquarters here in Dayton. I will be fully supporting our community’s bid to host this combatant command, which supports a mission critical to our nation’s national security.”

Currently, Wright-Patterson is the largest single-site employer in Ohio, employing over 30,000 military, civilian and contract personnel. The U.S. Space Command headquarters is projected to employ 1,400 people.

“We have the workforce, quality of life, and strong support for our military families,” Elaine Bryant, Dayton Development Coalition’s executive vice president of aerospace and defense, said. “We also have Wright-Patt’s expansive infrastructure and strong connection to the Space Command mission with organizations like the National Air and Space Intelligence Center and the Air Force Research Laboratory.”

Also, northern Ohio is home to the NASA Glenn Research Center, which “designs and develops innovative technology to advance NASA’s missions in aeronautics and space exploration” on a 6,400-arce strip of land in Sandusky, according to the center’s website. The Glenn Research Center’s Plum Brook Station simulates space — an asset to the agency and a stimulus to the regional economy, the center says. 

In order to be eligible, cities must be in the top 150 largest metropolitan areas by population, located within 25 miles of a military base, and have a “Livability Index” — a 100-point grading scale determined by the American Association of Retired Persons Public Policy Institute — of 50 points or higher. 

The U.S. Space Command is expected to select a host city by early 2021, however, the base will take six years to build. 

The resolution now heads to the House of Representatives.