Study shows economic impact of Cumberland County military bases ahead of possible cuts

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CUMBERLAND COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) – Leaders in Cumberland County paid for an engineering and feasibility study to show the federal government the benefits of its military bases.

We first reported the U.S. Department of Defense could close military bases in Pennsylvania last September. Three of them are in the Cumberland County area.

The study reports almost 11,000 people work at the county’s military installations, and this brings about $1 billion into the local economy.

The county’s military installations bring about $1 billion to the economy.

“Part of our fabric is military,” said Jonathan Bowser, CEO of the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corporation.

“The federal government is obviously looking to scale back where it can, and base closures are always on the horizon,” Cumberland County Commissioner Gary Eichelberger said.

Cumberland County is trying to keep its military installations here. The county just finished up a study to show their importance and will focus on three things moving forward. Those include employment and education about the bases, improving transportation to and from the installations, and working to get community input.

“If any of them were to leave or be reconfigured significantly, it’s going to have an impact at the community level,” Eichelberger said. “That could take all types of forms. It could be job losses obviously. It could affect the value of homes.”

“A lot of those 11,000 employees are not here permanently, but they are buying homes here,” Bowser said. “They are spending dollars here.”

Those 11,000 employees are at the Carlisle Barracks, the Defense Distribution Center in New Cumberland, and the Naval Support Activity in Hampden Township.

The survey shows the county is a good place for those installations because of its close proximity to Washington, D.C. and the Pentagon, as well as the highway system.

“It’s a good place to raise a kid, to raise a family and then also the cost of living here is very reasonable as well,” Bowser said.

The Department of Defense is expected to do an assessment on where to make cuts in 2018.

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