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11/25/2018 5:53:00 PM
Grissom's economic impact jumps to $134 million as military operations increase

Carson Gerber, Kokomo Tribune

BUNKER HILL – Officials at Grissom Air Reserve Base say the installation’s economic impact on the local economy increased to $134 million this year as the base increases its military operations.

The 434th Air Refueling Wing announced that the base’s total economic impact in fiscal year 2018 was up from $122 million in 2016, marking a 10 percent increase over two years.

During 2018, Grissom expended $40.5 million in equipment, supplies, contracts and minor construction, directly impacting local community job creation by more than $26.8 million. Between military personnel and civilian pay in 2018, the 434th ARW payroll was $66 million. 

The base is housed on 1,200 acres, with more than $2 billion in real property, making Grissom by far the largest employer in Miami County.

The announcement comes as the base in October started one of its largest deployments since 9/11, sending reservists and specialists to locations all over the world.

Douglas Hays, the 434th Air Refueling Wing public affairs operations chief, said in a previous interview the base is deploying more people than he has seen in a “long, long time.”

He said the deployment will likely continue until the spring to various missions in locations such as southwest Asia, the Pacific and Europe. Types of crews which are deploying include refueling units, aircrews and aircraft maintenance, and a large number of support personnel and specialists.

Martin Foye, 434th ARW financial services officer, said “It’s clear to anyone working on or with the base that our operations tempo is the highest in over a decade.” 

“Anyone walking across the installation can see improvements made to the parking lots, lighting, computer systems and perimeter fencing,” he said in a release. “ … The Air Force is making sure we are equipped not just for today, but that we have the latest technological systems in place to carry us well into the future.”

Foye said the kind of economic impact created by the base is different than civilian employers, since its finances are not driven by the same supply and demand, making it a more reliable source for the local economy.

“The Air Force ensures Grissom maintains its readiness and capabilities despite any economic downturns, so in turn, the base generates stability in the local community throughout the year,” he said. “Grissom's product is world-wide air refueling and mission ready Airmen.”

Col. Larry Shaw said the relationship between the base and the local community is mutually beneficial.

“We provide the largest economic impact, and the area provides some of the best Reserve citizen airmen and civilian employees in the country,” he said in a release.

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