Col. Barlow: Partnership initiative offers win-win potential

By Amanda Crowe acrowe@civitasmedia.com

February 21, 2014

Editor’s note: This is the first in a two-part story. Check out tomorrow’s issue for more from the Wright-Patterson Community Partnership Day event, including potential partnership ideas from local leaders.

FAIRBORN — Local community leaders met with officials from Wright-Patterson Air Force Base Thursday to brainstorm ideas during the first Wright-Patterson Community Partnership Day event.

Col. Cassie Barlow, 88th Air Base Wing and installation commander, invited many public sector agencies, organizations, businesses and municipalities to two briefings Feb. 20 to kick-off the Air Force Community Partnership Initiative. The goal was to discuss potential partnerships to leverage resources, cut costs and find shared value.

“As budgets continue to decrease, the Air Force is looking for alternative ways to support its mission,” said Barlow. “Our commitment is to find a way to say ‘yes’ to great opportunities and I believe this initiative is a win-win situation for all Wright-Patterson AFB mission partners.”

Thursday’s event consisted of two briefing sessions. The first was held in the morning to explain the Enhanced Use Lease process and identify candidate 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.

“We’ve had an overwhelming response from the community. We’re really pleased,” Barlow said.

Roughly 130 people registered for the EUL briefing in the morning where they had the opportunity to tour and learn about six base parcels across areas A and B. These make up just 144 acres of the 489 available for potential use.

“These areas are close to the fence line so for off-base and on-base use they can easily be carved out of the fence line. That way our off-base partners don’t have to go through security checks to get to them,” said Barlow. “That’s the great thing about being at Wright-Patterson. We have 8,000 acres, so we’re able to offer more opportunities here than other bases because of the size of the installation.”

Some potential EUL development opportunities include educational structures, office or industrial space, medical facilities, conference centers, traditional and renewable energy production, and many more. Proposals and requests for information may be done at the Federal Business Opportunities website at www.fbo.gov.

The second part of the day began with Col. Barlow encouraging community participants to think outside the box.

“The Miami Valley has always been home to forward thinkers and we’re excited to continue that,” she said. “We encourage you to look beyond the traditional and move beyond existing partnerships to expand them and form new partnerships. This is a true brainstorming day. Let’s not make any prejudgements. Just because we couldn’t do it before doesn’t mean we can’t do it now.”

Maj. Timorah Beales, from the Secretary of Air Force/Installations, Environment and Logistics office, and her team are at WPAFB to help facilitate the potential community partnerships. They successfully implemented this Department of Defense program at 16 Air Force bases last year, and Wright-Patterson is one of 30 chosen for 2014.

Thursday’s idea workshop was the second step in a 7-step process that typically takes six to eight months followed by quarterly update meetings for strategic oversight.

“Our team will continually be a part of what’s happening here,” Beales said. “This is not a one-time thing. Once we have implemented the partnerships created through this process, new ideas may develop and the process can start over.”

Some of the potential cross-functional initiatives discussed included youth programs, workforce development training, medical services and training, snow removal, waste management, grounds maintenance and more.

Following the briefing participants broke off into four specific groups to brainstorm partnerships in the fields of medicine, education, infrastructure and services, and research, test, development, life cycle and supply chain.

Amanda Crowe may be reached at 878-3993 ext. 134.