A decision that is forthcoming in the summer of 2015 could very well be a major blow to families, small business and major employers throughout the Puget Sound region.
On Jan. 21, the Army pulled together a “listening session” down in the Lacey, Wash. area to better understand how a proposed downsizing of up to 11,000 active duty and civilian contractors at JBLM would impact the region.
The responses and testimonies were predictable.
Over 500 people attended and more than 65 people testified, including Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, Pierce County Executive Pat McCarthy, Thurston County Commissioner Sandra Romero, mayors and councilmembers from Lacey, Lakewood, Yelm, University Place, DuPont, Olympia, Orting, and many more.
Sequestration, unless repealed, requires stiff budget cuts. The Army will need to cut 90,000 soldiers by 2020 and a proposed 11,000 of those cuts would come from JBLM.
Last year, JBLM was forced to cut 5,000 soldiers and contractors.
Chris Goddard, a resident and business owner in the region, said the 5,000 cuts impacted his business and thought it interesting that if Boeing made an announcement that it was cutting 11,000 jobs locally, it would be national news.
For the most part, residents of the region and state at large are unaware that these cuts could be forthcoming … and likely.
An Army study suggests these cuts could suck $970 million to over $1 billion out of the economy and that the region should take measures to prepare for such a scenario.
The exact financial impact to the region is under debate among leaders in the region.
Bottom line: Building a dependency on one primary source of revenue is risky. Detroit discovered this and when they fell on hard times (from which they are still emerging) they were forced to think outside the box and attract new industries and new, younger talent. The cities around JBLM will need to follow that same model.
– By Michael Schindler
Michael Schindler, Navy veteran, and president of Operation Military Family, is a guest writer for several national publications, author of the book “Operation Military Family” and “The Military Wire” blog. He is also a popular keynote and workshop speaker who reaches thousands of service members and their families every year through workshops and seminars that include “How to Battle-Ready Your Relationship” or “What Your Mother-in-Law Didn’t Tell You.” He received the 2010 Outstanding Patriotic Service Award from the Washington State Department of Veterans Affairs.