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A Publication of WTVP

The Department of Defense has a goal of reducing the total military infrastructure in the U.S. by approximately 25 percent. That will be done through a process called Base Realignment and Closure 2005 (BRAC 2005).

All military bases in the country are under scrutiny. In Illinois, there are four bases getting attention: the 182nd Airlift Wing Peoria National Guard, the 183rd Fighter Wing in Springfield, Scott Airforce Base in the metro east area, and the Rock Island Army Depot. The Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce has led the effort locally to work with both the Peoria and Springfield communities, in collaboration with Congressman Ray LaHood, to preserve the two bases. Funds have been raised in both communities-with the Peoria community's contribution more than $80,000 to date-to retain the services of Holland & Knight, a Washington D.C. lobbying firm, to represent the interests of the two bases.

Last September, the Peoria Area Chamber of Commerce released a study conducted by the Rural Economic Technical Assistance Center (RETAC) concerning the potential economic impact of the 182nd Airlift Wing closure on Peoria, Tazewell, and Woodford counties. The study results highlight the potential negative impact on the three counties in total number of jobs lost, the buying power of those employees, and the total impact on 83 local industry sectors.

Currently, the 182nd Airlift Wing has 480 full-time equivalent (FTE) positions held by individuals residing in the tri-county region. Not only would the base closure impact these 480 FTE military jobs, but the closure would also affect 83 industry segments, resulting in an additional loss of more than 429 civilian jobs.

The results of RETAC's study reveal that these military employees spend more than $18.9 million annually in 83 different industry segments of our local economy.

When analyzing these 83 industry segments, the top seven most affected after military federal are colleges/ universities/junior colleges, food service/drinking establishments, hospitals, real estate, wholesale trade, offices of physicians/dentists/other health, and nursing and residential care facility industries. In these seven industry segments alone, nearly 210 FTEs would be lost, due to more than $15.3 million in total output. The overall output impact in 83 industry segments is estimated to be more than $45.5 million, with a total of 909 FTE positions lost. In addition to the quantifiable costs, the 182nd also provides support to its surrounding communities by offering services such as dual fire protection and security assistance.

Mayor David Ransburg, Jim McConoughey from the Heartland Partnership, and I were joined by leaders from Springfield to share the local perspectives on the importance of the base-both to the community and to the national defense in Washington D.C. with key Department of Defense officials. We'll continue to work hard to keep our 182nd Airlift Wing open, and we hope you'll support us in these efforts. IBI

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