The Vermont Chamber of Commerce has begun a statewide petition to support basing the F-35 Fighter jet at the Burlington International Airport.
The U.S. Air Force has identified the Vermont Air National Guard base at the Burlington International Airport as one of two preferred sites in the country for the new, state of the art F-35 jet. But there has been considerable debate in the community over the potential mission in Vermont. The Vermont Chamber of Commerce on Thursday launched a state-wide petition to support the F35 mission in Vermont. The Vermont Chamber says it will retain the 1,100 employees of the Vermont Air National Guard and their $53 million annual payroll. The organization also says a full rollout of the jet in Vermont could lead to 173 direct jobs worth more than 24-million dollars, and 485 indirect jobs bringing more than 27-million dollars to the state. Vermont Chamber of Commerce Vice President for Business Development Chris Carrigan.
Carrigan says there are members that have family and friends that serve with the guard, businesses that make components for the F-35, and more payroll opportunities if the state gets the jet.
The Burlington Business Association supports the Chamber’s petition effort. Executive Director Kelly Devine says the alternate preferred site in Utah has expressed strong support for the F35, so it is critical to send a positive message for basing the jet in Burlington.
Opponents are concerned about potential noise from the jets and the impact on the surrounding communities. Attorney and F35 opponent Jimmy Leas says the Chamber is ignoring the impact on low income residents.
The petition is at the Vermont Chamber’s website thru August.