CLARIFICATION--AN ARTICLE IN THURSDAY'S EXTRA ABOUT THE NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF NAVAL AVIATION COMMUNITY PARTNERS DID NOT INCLUDE ALL OF THE COMMUNITIES THAT ARE TAKING PART IN THE NEW ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT GROUP. THE COMPLETE LIST INCLUDES ST. MARY'S COUNTY; LAKEHURST, N.J.; RIDGECREST, CALIF.; VENTURA COUNTY, CALIF.; SAN DIEGO, CALIF.; KEY WEST, FLA.; JACKSONVILLE, FLA.; AND CHERRY POINT, N.C. (PUBLISHED 06/06/99)

Representatives from several jurisdictions across the country that host Naval Aviation Systems Command (NAVAIR) installations have created an organization that they say will boost economic development in the communities.

A memorandum of understanding signed last week at a ceremony at Patuxent River Naval Air Station formally inaugurated the National Association of Naval Aviation Community Partners (NACP).

NACP "unites geographically diverse communities around the common goals of enhancing support for NAVAIR activities and maximizing benefits for the local areas," according to a statement from the St. Mary's County Department of Economic and Community Development.

The group includes representatives from NAVAIR communities in Ridgecrest and Ventura County in California, Craven County in North Carolina, greater Orlando in Florida and Southern Maryland. The communities, which share in the benefits of NAVAIR's $17.6 billion annual budget, have a combined population of approximately 4 million people, according to organizers.

"We are all here together, and that is what it's all about -- to support economic development across the board," Rear Adm. Craig Seidle, vice commander of NAVAIR, said at the signing ceremony. "I am proud of the group here today, and I know we're up to the challenge."

The concept is the first of its kind among the armed forces, according to organizers. "I think we are the only ones in the Department of Defense who have organized such a committee," said the group's chair, Wayne Wilson, who also heads the Patuxent Partnership, a group of regional business and civic leaders organized to monitor and promote the vitality of the Navy installations in the area. "We are breaking new ground."

The goal is to create an atmosphere of collaboration among communities that are often competing for defense dollars, organizers said.

Projects that the group will undertake include assisting the flow of technology between the private and government sectors, trying to convince the public that the technology work brings about economic and cultural benefits, and helping local industries adapt to changes in technology and government regulation.

The group also will seek to reduce costs of Navy equipment and services through collaboration among communities, industry and academia.

An intranet-based network will be used to share information, practices and lessons learned.

"The NACP acknowledges the importance of collaboration among all of the communities that are part of the fabric of the naval aviation team," according to the statement from St. Mary's County. "A unified posture can only help further strengthen naval aviation, NAVAIR sites and local jurisdictions."