From Site Selection magazine, September 2010
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Economic Impact of
The U.S. Department of Defense employs over 57,000 people in Oklahoma as either active-duty military personnel or as civilians. An additional 49,000 jobs are supported by the presence of the military in the state. Total earnings and income impacts from the military-related occupations in Oklahoma are $5.5 billion a year. The average annual wage of these jobs is $63,000.
With five military bases within its borders (three Air Force and two Army), Oklahoma has providentially avoided the closure portion of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC). This fact has not gone unnoticed by state and local officials within Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Department of Commerce has given special focus to promote the importance of the military related economy within the state. After the 2005 BRAC list announced the closure of numerous military facilities around the nation, many states and local communities in proximity to closing installations began preparing for the loss of jobs and the economic driver that is the military-related economy. There was a positive side to BRAC: the states and communities that were economic beneficiaries of realignment, which included Lawton Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
Fort Sill was established in 1869 by Major General Philip Sheridan, and a community began to grow near the post. The city of Lawton was founded in 1901 after the Oklahoma land lottery. As a gaining community, because of BRAC, Lawton Fort Sill has enjoyed the valuable economic results of increased military spending and investment to support the movement the of Air Defense Artillery (ADA) training school from Fort Bliss near El Paso (TX) to Fort Sill. Already home to the Army Field Artillery (FA) training center, the addition of the ADA is a tremendous economic boost.
Direct economic impact due to BRAC includes an increase in soldiers, military students, military family members and civilian employees, adding a total of 8,980 people to the Lawton Fort Sill population. The realignment of the ADA school is anticipated to result in a $4.4 billion increase in regional economic activity, leading to the creation of 6,700 new jobs, including 3,200 that are non-military.
A value-added benefit to military-related communities is the relative stability of Defense Department spending. This serves to insulate the local community from the economic downturns that occur in communities that are dependent on manufacturing or seasonal economic drivers such as tourism.