Army Downsizing Could Mean Big Cuts To Midlands Economy

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - Fort Jackson brings our economy more than two billion dollars a year. But as the army continues to downsize that could mean big cuts here at home.

"Ft. Jackson could lose up to 3,100 positions which is almost half of our workforce," said Ft. Jackson Commanding General Bradley Becker.

The Army projects it will reduce troop levels from 490,000 to 450,000 by the end of next year.

So what does that mean for you and our state?

"We recently lost about 200 folks at our retention and recruiting school and that impact alone costs some of our hotels a loss of about one million dollars in income," said Susan McPherson with the Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

If a loss of 200 people at the base made a one million dollar impact think about what could happen if we lost 3,100 employees and more than 7,000 soldiers.

That's a worst case scenario but General Becker says its something that they are taking serious.

"It's very important, the military will be looking at as we downsize where will we make reductions and where will we find those savings as we reduce and knowing how important a military base is both environmentally and economically to the local community is very important," said Becker.

To put into perspective how many people Ft. Jackson brings to the Midlands think about this,

The base is the largest army training installation in the country, training more than 45,000 soldiers a year. That's enough people to fill half of Williams Brice Stadium.

When you add in friends and family of the recruits, it brings close to 250,000 visitors a year to the area; that's the size of three sold out SEC games at Williams Brice.

"When you look at that and you think about the restaurants and the hotels, our hospitality tax dollars, our penny tax dollars, all of those things are critical to the well being of the community," said McPherson.

$2.6 Billion dollars worth of an impact to be exact; so what can you do to help?

McPherson says for the next three weeks they will be taking petitions to send to Washington to tell military leaders how much of an impact the cuts will make on our economy.

"If you take away any of that money, then it will start to chip away at jobs that your friends and my friends and friends of the chamber so we all lose. So that's one of the reasons why we want to generate letters, when we have our community listening session with the army, we want to have a huge turnout of Columbia and Midlands Support. "

If you want to write a petition letter mail it to Susan McPherson, Columbia Chamber, PO Box 1360, Columbia, SC 29202 or CLICK HERE.


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