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January 22, 2010

Posted by allthingshavelock in MCAS Cherry Point.
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Big mission, big bucks

January 21, 2010 9:23 AM
By Sue Book
Freedom ENC

Cherry Point local economic impact is at $2.18 billion a year and growing and appears secure, top base officials told local leaders Wednesday.

New economic impact numbers for the air station were presented by

Col. Doug A. Denn, Cherry Point’s commanding officer, presented the numbers to at a luncheon Wednesday at Craven Community College’s Institute of Aeronautical Technology in Havelock.

Salaries alone for base active and retired military and civilian population totaled $1.43 billion in fiscal year 2009, he said. The total number of military and civilian employees at the station is now more than 15,000 including more than 3,700 at Fleet Readiness Center East, the Navy aircraft maintenance and repair facility on base.

Denn said when he arrived in August the impact number was at $1.8 billion and he set a personal goal to see it top $2 billion before leaving command, but it has already happened on its own.

Work for civilian employees is also robust, said Col. L. Scott Loch, commanding officer of FRC East. He said that while the sun may be setting on work on older aircraft like the CH-46 helicopter, “here it is still sitting pretty high in the sky.”

Hearings for determining the site for the 13 Marine Corps squadrons of F-35B Joint Strike Fighters won’t be until April. But Loch said a decision has been made that Joint Strike Fighter work, when they are up and running, “will come fully to us” for the F-35B and F-35C models.

“We have a bright future,” he said. “That work would exceed the sum of current work here.”

But Loch pointed out that FRC East is more than just jobs.

“We exist to bring readiness to the fleet,” he told the gathering. “The Joint Strike Fighter is a very technologically advanced airframe, and we need to grow technology expertise. They can’t just bring it in and people know what has to be done.”

He said FRC needs to further grow the partnerships it has with the community, such as that with the community college as a training ground, to make sure it is ready for the task.

Jimmy Sanders, Havelock mayor and chairman of the Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow lobby group, moderated the event. He said that base wages help support 35,000 people in Craven County, more than 10,000 in Carteret and about 1,200 each from Pamlico and Jones counties.

“We stress the economic impact, but we know what you do is making a difference in the world,” he told the military leaders.

About 75 base and civilian leaders from area counties attended the luncheon hosted by ACT, the Havelock Chamber of Commerce, the Craven County Committee of 100, the city of Havelock and Craven Community College.

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