July 12, 2005 | News Releases on National Security and Defense

Base Closings Often Have Silver Lining, Study Shows

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., and    

   Austin, Texas, Air Force bases became airports-some with

   other assets attached.

   -The Charleston Naval Shipyard in South Carolina is now   

   home to more than 100 private, local, state and federal

   organizations.
   -The Glenview Naval Air Station in Illinois is being developed

   into an upscale planned community. 
      -Reese Air Force Base in Lubbock, Texas, is now Reese     

   Technology Center, a research, education and business

   campus.

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."

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