City examining think tank option

By Linda Collins - For the Fairborn Herald

FAIRBORN – Fairborn city leaders are looking at establishing a think tank tool to generate local economic development and are referring to a Dayton-based business consulting service to guide them through the process.

During the Sept. 11 city council work session, Larry Jenkins and Michael Barnes, senior executive partners at Nouveau Innovation Alliance LLC., presented a proposed initiative regarding advanced first responder innovation to city council members. Barnes explained that a think tank brings together people who lead the field in a very specific industry to study a particular topic and provide information, ideas and advice. Currently, city leaders and the business consultants are working on bringing experts together to focus on the development of a first responder institute.

“If we have the think tank and experts here, we can bring people here to develop the actual technology, and we can hold conferences and forums as well,” Barnes said. “When people think of first responder development, they will think about Fairborn.”

Jenkins pointed out that the City of Fairborn has many assets, including those assets available through Wright State University and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, as well as four local members of Ohio Task Force One who deployed to a number of disasters, including the collapse of the World Trade Center and several major hurricanes. He said area veterans also have the training, certifications and skills needed that would help form a viable think tank.

According to Barnes, city officials would first set up a think tank center and develop an infrastructure. Once the infrastructure is in place, they would engage those thought leaders in the community who have innovative ideas, as well as identify additional sources of revenue and commercial opportunities.

Jenkins noted that city officials would have the opportunity to collaborate with Wright State University officials at The National Center for Medical Readiness at Calamityville training facility which has drawn EMS departments and groups from all over the Midwest for training.

“The city could use a phase development type of approach, which would involve academic transition to pragmatic use of the facility,” Jenkins said. “As you pull in the knowledge, you look at how you can partner with Wright State.”

As the think tank collects information data, local first responders will have the opportunity to benefit from the available technology and be in a good position to react quickly during an emergency or disaster, according to Jenkins. The think tank could be used to form a command center during a crisis and would involve social media as well.

City Manager Rob Anderson told council members that city leaders developed a proposal to assess the landscape and develop a board. They also may post relevant information online.

“We have money in the budget to do this,” Anderson said. “However, we wanted to bring it to the attention of city council.”

Fairborn City Council Member Marilyn McCauley asked who would be selected to serve on the institute’s board of directors. Jenkins explained that city officials would benefit from looking at where the avenue of revenue exists when deciding who those board members would be.

McCauley also asked Anderson if the city had approach any members of the police and fire departments regarding the idea of a think tank and a first responder institute. Anderson noted that he had not contacted them at this time. However, the think tank would include first responders who would work together with the unique team of experts and city officials.

Fairborn Mayor Dan Kirkpatrick pointed out that the proposed initiative is very similar to the objective that was supposed to be achieved at Calamityville 10 years ago.

“It was never fully developed or had the leadership. We had some people with vision, but we never had the marketing expertise,” Kirkpatrick said. “This is exactly the direction they wanted to go but never developed it. I am thrilled to see this happening. This is good timing.”

City Council Member Tim Steininger said he fully agreed with the mayor and noted that city leaders had always pride themselves on having an exceptional police and fire department.

“They are the first responders out at Wright State training the people. This initiative will bring us to the next step. Not only will we be the trainers, but we will have the institute to back us and make us the best,” Steininger said. “We will also have the best equipment because we are the ones who tried it out first.”

However, McCauley cautioned that final details needed to be completed before moving forward with the project.

“I think there is potential for a lot of loose ends, and further discussion is needed” McCauley said.

She also asked Anderson if the project would be self-supporting. He explained that an initial investment from the city would get the first responder institute up and running.

“Part of that is identifying revenue resources and making it self-sufficient long term,” said Anderson. “This is a very small initial investment, and we will not spend any more money until we figure out the second part of this.”

By Linda Collins

For the Fairborn Herald

Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.

Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.