Rome Lab’s economic impact to region up by $54M, feds say


The economic impact locally from the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Information Directorate in Rome continues to grow.

The facility, known as Rome Lab, had a total annual economic impact for fiscal 2019 estimated at $467 million for a local five-county impact area, up by 13.2% or $54 million from 2018, according to an Air Force report Thursday. That follows a 5.1% increase in 2018 compared to 2017.

In addition, the lab’s total employment grew to 816 civilian and military employees, up from 777 in 2018 and 782 in 2017; the payroll for them was about $96.3 million. Meanwhile, there was a slight decline in on-site contractors under Air Force contracts, totaling 403 compared to 405 in 2018. Rome Lab is located at Griffiss park.

The report is for the federal 2019 fiscal year that ended Sept. 30, 2019.

The total economic impact measures annual payroll, annual expenditures, and the estimated annual dollar value of indirect jobs created. The economic impact area, home to all of the lab’s military personnel and 97% of its civilian personnel and on-site contractors, includes Oneida, Madison, Herkimer, Onondaga and Oswego counties.

“The directorate has a substantial economic impact within the Utica-Rome Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA), as well as the Syracuse MSA,” according to an announcement by Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio that accompanied the report; the base is the headquarters for the overall AFRL.

Total funding received by Rome Lab in fiscal 2019 was over $1.6 billion, after also totaling over $1.6 billion in 2018 which was the most funds received in its history. Among several categories providing funding for the lab are the military services plus affiliated defense agencies.

“The groundbreaking work done at Rome Lab not only helps keep our country safe, it drives our local economy,” U.S. Rep. Anthony Brindisi, D-22, Utica, said Thursday regarding the economic impact report. “These are great numbers and with an increased investment from the latest National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), I am hopeful these numbers will continue to grow.”

As a member of the House Armed Services Committee, added Brindisi, “I will always fight for resources for Rome Lab and to drive the economy in the Mohawk Valley.” Brindisi in December supported the NDAA which included, among its provisions for the lab, $8 million for a Quantum Innovation Center, $5 million in counter unmanned aircraft system research and $5 million in additional quantum science research funds.

For the lab’s estimated $467 million local economic impact in fiscal 2019, included are an annual payroll within the five-county impact area of $145.3 million, comprising direct employment and on-site contractors; expenditures in the area totaling $259.4 million, up about $48 million; and an estimated $62.3 million value for an estimated 1,380 indirect jobs created due to the lab.

The area expenditures category includes “local service and facility modernization contracts, as well as research and development contracts granted to contractors in the five-county impact area,” said the economic impact report. It added that the category’s growth to $259.4 million “was primarily due to a 19% increase in research and development contracts granted to contractors in the impact area.”

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

The lab “explores, prototypes, and demonstrates high-impact, affordable and game-changing technologies,” said the Wright-Patterson website. “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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