A new report details the huge impact existing military bases have on the economy in Massachusetts. The report was prepared as part of an effort to save the state’s six military installations from federal cuts. WAMC”s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill reports
The six military bases across the state from Cape Cod to the Pioneer Valley are economic engines in their communities and regions that were worth almost $14 billion to the state’s economy last year, supporting more than 45,000 jobs, according to the report prepared for a task force chaired by Massachusetts Lt.Gov. Timothy Murray.
The report , prepared by the UMass Donahue Institute, said total spending at the six bases last year for operations, construction and vendor contracts totaled $9.1 billion. There were 14,500 people, both uniformed military and civilians, who worked at the bases. The researchers found the bases contributed to another $4.6 million in spending and added more than 30,600 jobs to the state’s economy.
The two Pioneer Valley bases, Westover Air Force Reserve Base in Chicopee, and Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield combined are the region’s 5th largest employer with an economic impact of more then $500 million.
The numbers were an eye opener, even to Major General L. Scott Rice, acting head of the Massachusetts National Guard.
The new report is part of the case the state is building to protect the bases from deep military spending cuts expected to occur over the next decade. The state has stressed the important roles the bases play when it comes to national security, the operating efficiencies already in place, and now the huge economic impact.
The threat of the cuts prompted Gov. Deval Patrick, last winter, to create the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force. Led by Lt Gov. Murray, the group has toured all the bases and held roundtable discussions with local business and government leaders.
The release of the report on the economic impact of the military bases follows a study that came out Monday that found federal defense and homeland security contracts add about $34 billion to New England’s economy last year. Massachusetts companies received almost $14 billion in defense contracts according to the study’s author, Martin Romitti, the director of Economic and Public Policy Research at the UMass Donahue Institute.
The study found that Connecticut’s very large defense contractor industry has led to employment for more than 11,000 people in Massachusetts.
Federal spending cuts looming January, the study warned, could cost the Massachusetts defense industry 30,000 jobs