During the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) round, the Chamber led the community effort to protect the 180th Fighter Wing located at Toledo Express Airport. The community’s response and support for the wing were an important factor in not only retaining the mission, but expanding its role in the defense of the homeland. Additional F-16 aircraft we relocated to the base and soon after, the 180th was assigned the aerospace control alert (ACA) mission. The ACA plays an important role in the nation’s network of air defenses continuously on standby as part of Operation Noble Eagle, the North American Aerospace Defense Command homeland defense mission that began shortly after the 9/11 attacks.
In addition to protecting the skies above, the 180th Fighter Wing Fire & Emergency Services Department provides sole 24-hour emergency response for the Eugene F. Kranz Toledo Express Airport. In 2020, they responded to 160 emergencies within their primary response district. The department also provides support to the community through mutual aid agreements, responding to 48 mutual aid emergency requests, including 26 medical emergencies, 14 rescues, five structural fires and two wildland fires.
The Chamber also played an important role in advocating for key infrastructure improvements at the 180th. The Chamber assisted in securing $2.5 million from the State of Ohio for the Deployment Processing and Fitness Center and the nearly $15 million in federal funding for new hangers to support the ACA mission. We have also assisted with infrastructure improvements around other facilities in the region and participated in the development public-private, public-public partnerships (P4) to enhance opportunities in the region for both our service members and community organizations.
In addition to the civic pride and patriotism that is gained by having these units in our community, there is also a significant economic benefit as well. Did you know that these units provide more than 2,500 jobs and contribute nearly $250 million annually to our local economy? Many of these service members also are employed by companies in the region, making their contributions even greater.
Our veteran community enhances our region even more. It is estimated that there are more than 35,000 veterans living in the Toledo Region and nearly half of them contribute to the region’s workforce. More than 4,000 veteran-owned business in the region provide more than 15,000 jobs, more than $400 million in annual payroll, and produce nearly $2 billion in annual sales and receipts.
In the last Ohio General Assembly, several key pieces of legislation we introduced and ultimately signed into law that will support our service members and their families. Senate Bill 7 was signed by Governor Mike DeWine in April 2020 to issue temporary licenses or certificates to members of the military and their spouse who are licensed in another jurisdiction and moved to Ohio for military duty. House Bill 16 was signed by Governor DeWine in September 2020 that grants residency status for in-state college tuition to active duty military service members and their families. In both cases, the Chamber led a successful effort to make sure that active duty guard and reserve members and their families were included. These items make it easier for family members to more quickly start work or enroll in a higher education program when they arrive with their service member.
The military units in the Toledo region are fortunate to have strong advocates in our federal representatives that help make some of what they do a little easier. In addition to our strong federal delegation, Chamber staff enhances our national voice through participation in groups such as the Association of Defense Communities and the Air Force Civic Leader program.
While there may not be an official BRAC underway, rest assured that the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce remains vigilant and actively monitors potential threats and opportunities to all of our region’s military units. So if you’re wondering why or are ever asked why the Chamber cares so much about our units in the region, hopefully you have a little better understanding about the true impact the servicemen and women and their families have on our region.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Military Affairs Committee or how you can participate in our efforts to support them, please contact Brian Dicken, vice president of advocacy and strategic initiatives, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Read our Military Appreciation Month Q&As:
Keep checking back to the Toledo Chamber blog for more upcoming Q&As with veteran and military member business owners in our community.
As the Vice President of Advocacy and Strategic Initiatives for the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce, Brian oversees the Chamber’s advocacy and public policy efforts with local, state and Federal governments. With nearly 20 years of experience, he has held positions in state government in the offices of the Ohio Lt. Governor, Ohio Auditor of State and Ohio Treasurer of State. He also worked for the late U.S. Representative Paul Gillmor and in the Office of the Vice President of the United States.