Rome Lab funding, impact up

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Financial results for the Air Force Research Laboratory’s (AFRL) Rome facility grew to new levels in the 2018 fiscal year, including overall funding received plus the economic impact for the local five-county area.

The area economic impact from the Rome lab was estimated at $412 million for fiscal 2018, up by $20 million or 5.1 percent from 2017, according to an annual Air Force analysis that was issued today. The federal 2018 fiscal year ended Sept. 30, 2018.

In addition, the facility — formally called the AFRL
Information Directorate and located at Griffiss park — “received the most funds in the history of the lab, totaling over $1.6 billion” in fiscal 2018, according to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio; it is headquarters for the overall AFRL. Among several categories that provide funding for the Rome lab are the military services plus affiliated defense agencies.

The Rome lab “has a substantial economic impact within the Utica-Rome Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), as well as the Syracuse MSA,” said Wright-Patterson. “The total economic impact area includes the five counties of Herkimer, Madison, Oneida, Onondaga, and Oswego.”

The lab’s employment in fiscal 2018 was down slightly from 2017. Its direct workforce totaled 777 civilian and military employees, compared to 782 in 2017. Their combined annual salaries were over $94 million, and about 97 percent of them live in the five-county impact area, the report said.

Also, the lab had “405 on-site contractors under Air Force contracts” during fiscal 2018, with an annual payroll estimated at $52 million, said the report. In fiscal 2017 there were 422 on-site contractors.

Annual expenditures by the lab in the five-county area totaled $211 million in fiscal 2018, up by $17.9 million. The report said “this was primarily due to a 13 percent increase in research and development contracts granted to contractors in the impact area.” The expenditure tally also includes local service and facility modernization contracts.

The economic impact analysis further estimated that the Rome lab was responsible for an additional 1,335 indirect jobs in the five-county area. It said “the estimated annual dollar value of these local jobs created was $59 million.”

U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-22, Utica, said one of the first things he did as a new member of Congress was to visit the lab "for an update on the innovative, groundbreaking work they are doing...." The lab’s work is "critical to our country’s cybersecurity, and they are a huge driver of our local economy, bringing good-paying, competitive jobs to our region," he said. He added "I look forward to continuing to work with Rome lab to keep our country safe and bring even more economic opportunity to the Mohawk Valley."

The Rome lab “leads the Air Force and nation in Command, Control, Communications, Computers, and Intelligence (C4I) and cyber science, technology, research, and development,” the report said.

The lab’s mission is “to explore, prototype and demonstrate high-impact, game-changing technologies that enable the Air Force and nation to maintain its superior technical advantage,” according to the Wright-Patterson website. It also says “these technologies transform data into information and subsequently knowledge for decision-makers to command and control forces. This knowledge gives our air, space and cyberspace forces the competitive advantage needed to protect and defend” the country.

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