By Sara Belsole
COLUMBUS, GA - "The impact upon this region is certainly going to be a negative impact. And we don't know how you could not be worried or concerned," Columbus Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Mike Gaymon says.
Statistics show every day, Fort Benning sees almost 80,000 soldiers, trainees and family members.
"It's important to understand, any changes at Fort Benning impact the entire community," Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors Chair, Jacki Lowe, says.
According to the Army's recent study, Fort Benning serves as a major regional economic engine, contributing more than $2 billion annually to the local economy.
"I wish we could have a dollar that would be associated with the military and their families and defense industries and so forth, so you could track that dollar through our community because literally those dollars flow through our community in everyday and every way," Gaymon says.
Predictions show about 7,100 soldier and army civilian jobs and 689 military contract service jobs would be lost. Not to mention an additional 1,234 private sector jobs who rely on Fort Benning.
And less foot traffic in our area would result in a 3% reduction in sales, which means sales tax revues could decrease by more than $16 million.
"I can guarantee there is no business that is exempt from being impacted," Gaymon says.
However, Fort Benning officials have a more guarded outlook about the potential cuts.
"We will be affected in some way but it's a little too early to tell. At the end of the day we think the Army is in good shape, Fort Benning will be in good shape and we will still be able to conduct our core competencies and missions at Fort Benning," Garrison Commander Col. Jeffrey Fletcher says.
The Chamber of Commerce is urging residents to reach out and give their comments to the Army. Public comments may be submitted by mail or email to:
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