A very busy day at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima-- a top congressional leader meets with tank suppliers and the results of a study concerning defense spending are released.
Congressman Mike Turner of Dayton stopping by the JSMC to meet with tank plant leaders and officials within the facility's larger supply chain. Turner is the chairman of the house armed services subcommittee on air and land forces, which directly deals with military equipment, including the Abrams tank.
Concerns remain over the need for the tank, which is exclusively made in Lima. The U.S. Army has said it doesn't need more tanks and are pushing to discontinue tank work in Lima from 2014 until the next generation of tanks is needed in 2017. That would lead to massive layoffs at both the plant and at companies that supply parts for the tank.
Ed Verhoff from Verhoff Machine says when the company first began making seats for the Abrams tank, they employed 130 people. Because of cuts, the number has been reduced to 80. Verhoff says the further stopping and restarting of production would be very costly.
"For example, to work for General Dynamics you can't just walk in and understand all of the quality requirements. The regulations are tremendous as far as quality goes, and it take approximately four to five years to learn the entire system. Once you lose that talent, it's very hard to replace," said Verhoff.
Turner says he is also seeking ways to change rules that would open the tank plant for commercial work as well as the work already commissioned by the government.
Later in the day, the results of a state commissioned study concerning defense were shared with Task Force Lima.
Advisors from CBD Consultants going step by step through a study for members of the task force. The group is assigned to keeping the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center open and thriving.
The study was commissioned by the Kasich administration in anticipation of federal cuts from the Department of Defense including future rounds of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission better known as BRAC. According to the consultants, defense has a nearly 550 million dollar economic impact in Northwest Ohio. And the JSMC, which manufactures the Abrams tank, results in an economic impact of about 265 million dollars. The goal of the study is to help the state better understand how to retain jobs, as federal cuts take place.
"The most important thing we understand is how JSMC competes against other assets that are reviewed by the Department of Defense in the BRAC process. So when we talked about military value criteria, how do we reduce costs of operations. Those king of things to make us more competitive. What we need to focus on here in Lima, said Major Gen. Matthew Kambic (Ret.) of CBD Consultants.
The assessment of the JSMC pointed out the plant's highly skilled and dedicated workforce. Results of the study have been reviewed by top state officials as well as economic development leaders.