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$343.2 million economic impact by Columbus Air Force Base

Reported by: Robert Byers
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Updated: 6/07/2013 5:28 pm
COLUMBUS, Miss. (WTVA) - Friday at the Base Community Council luncheon, the Columbus Air Force Base's economic impact report was shared with members.

This most recent number is quite a bit higher than recent years because it includes more than $67 million in construction on the base.

A medical clinic renovation and new center runway work projects are underway.

Col. Jim Sears, Commander at Columbus Air Force Base, said, "Even if you remove that increase for the construction, Columbus Air Force Base has a larger impact than our other specialized undergraduate pilot training bases. We have a few more people here for the extra mission we do which is the introduction to fighter fundamentals program. A few other things on the base allow us to a few more things for the community than some of the others."

The economic reach of the base extends well beyond Columbus and Lowndes County.

It includes adjoining counties and cities plus other areas in the state and region.

Base Community Council President Larry Cantrell said, "It's significant for Columbus because that's where the base is located. We have a new runway where there's $80 million being spent. It's with local contractors and area people are coming here everyday who are part of that."

Over the years Columbus Air Force Base has faced possible closure by the federal government. That's why they say it's important to keep these economic impact numbers front and center.

Base and community leaders point out that 420 officers graduated last year.

All the while, base leaders must try to work with a budget they say that's tighter than ever before.

They're even training officers to do more with less but yet not compromise safety.

Col. Sears said, "When you get all 328,000 airmen thinking that way it's very powerful in the ways we can save money for the government."

The base is the busiest air traffic control complex in the U.S. for three of the last four years.

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