WASHINGTON, JULY 12,
2005-Losing a military base
need not spell economic disaster for a community, a new study from
The Heritage Foundation shows.
Communities where bases close
regain about 90 percent of the jobs lost within six years. And,
although per capita incomes drop slightly at first, they quickly
recoup that loss and often experience strong growth thereafter,
according to the study led by Jack Spencer, a senior defense policy
analyst at Heritage and an expert on the Base Realignment and
Closing (BRAC) process.
The key to success is quick action by local leaders to transform
the abandoned facilities into engines of economic growth.
Communities have converted bases to a variety of new and profitable
uses. For example, the study notes:
-In Mesa, Ariz., Portsmouth, N.H., Alexandria, La.,
Austin, Texas, Air Force
bases became airports-some with
-The Charleston Naval
Shipyard in South Carolina is now
home to more than 100
private, local, state and federal
-The Glenview Naval
Air Station in Illinois is being developed
into an upscale planned
-Reese Air Force
Base in Lubbock, Texas, is now
Technology Center, a
research, education and business
The study suggests that Congress
can help communities that will lose bases in the next round of
closings in two ways. First, Congress should hold hearings on how
communities have overcome base closures. Also, lawmakers should
encourage communication between communities that have gone through
the process and those that face it now.
"The Department of Defense is not
a jobs program," Spencer says. "BRAC is about sorting out which
facilities we need and which can be converted to other uses. It's
up to community leaders, with help from Congress, to move quickly
to deal with the fallout."