U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) visited an Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) training center at Sinclair Community College today to outline his plan to bolster emerging, regional industries--like UAS--by ensuring that Ohioans have the necessary skills and training to attract and fill high-tech jobs. Sinclair Community College offers several training programs for jobs in the UAS field. Brown discussed his Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success (SECTORS) Act, which would help ensure that Ohioans have the skills to qualify for new, good-paying positions and that businesses can hire from a local, skilled workforce.
"The Unmanned Aerial Systems industry has tremendous potential to bring new economic development and new jobs to our state. Dayton's top-tier research institutions, strong defense presence, and innovative businesses make the Miami Valley poised to lead out nation's UAS development," Brown said. "Sinclair Community College's UAS Training Center is ensuring that Dayton's workers have the skills for positions in this high-growth field. The SECTORS Act is aimed at aligning regional, workforce development efforts with the needs of regional, high-growth industries like UAS. In the Miami Valley, the SECTORS Act would help the community make sure that more workers are prepared for opportunities in the UAS industry."
Brown was joined by Trace Curry, an unemployed worker who recently completed his certification at Sinclair and is pursuing entry-level technical positions in the UAS industry. In addition to classroom instruction, Sinclair recently received approval for UAS testing at Springfield Air National Guard Base.
"Unmanned Aerial Systems are a key component of our regional economic development strategy," Sinclair President and CEO Steve Johnson said. "The Dayton Region is uniquely suited to build a strong UAS industry. Sinclair is committed to serving as part of the team that works every day to build the strong workforce that a thriving and successful local UAS industry will require. We appreciate Senator Brown's work on this issue and on vital legislative efforts that will help strengthen our local economy."
Despite Ohio's 7.2 percent unemployment rate, many employers in emerging industries--including solar energy, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare--struggle to find workers to fill job vacancies. The SECTORS Act tailors workforce development to the needs of regional industry, allowing more workers to receive placements and attracting more businesses to a given region. The bill would organize stakeholders connected to a regional industry--businesses, unions, education and training providers, and local workforce and education system administrators--to develop plans for growing that industry. A range of groups are supporting the SECTORS Act, including the National Association of Manufacturers, which asked Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee leadership to include Brown's legislation in larger job training legislation. The SECTORS Act was also included in the Building a Stronger America Act, a bipartisan bill introduced this month that is aimed at strengthening American manufacturing, exports, and competitiveness.
Brown is working to expand the UAS industry and create jobs in the Miami Valley. In February 2011, Brown successfully amended the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act to increase the number of designated sites across the country to test UAS and save taxpayer dollars by ensuring that selected sites have the infrastructure necessary to carry out these tests. In a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), Brown noted that the FAA should establish test locations that promote safety and maximize returns on taxpayer investment. Brown emphasized that FAA should establish criteria for test ranges that emphasize: geographic and climatic diversity, existing runway and hangar infrastructure, and the ability to leverage existing public-private partnerships.
Brown's bipartisan amendment also directed the FAA Administrator to consult with NASA and the Department of Defense--two principal users and researchers of UAS --opening the door for tests to be done in restricted air space surrounding Wright Patterson Airforce Base. Springfield--home to the Springfield Air National Guard Base-- would be a natural choice for designation to test UAS flights.