Newport News, Va. (PRWEB) January 26, 2015
The Fort Eustis community listening session held this month drew nearly 330 members from the community, including 80 who viewed live-streaming and business and civic leaders, elected officials, small business owners, association leaders, and educators. Their presence alone sent a message – they are concerned about the potential 4,100 personnel cuts that could happen at Fort Eustis as part of the U.S. Army’s budget reductions across the country.
“Hampton Roads is a pleasant place to live, with a superb quality of life, a moderate cost of living, a temperate climate and arguably the worlds finest ice-free, deep water port year round,” said retired Navy Rear Adm. Craig Quigley of the Hampton Roads Military and Federal Facilities Alliance. Quigley was among roughly one dozen who addressed the group. “It is 200 miles from our nation’s capital. It has superb academic facilities at every level, and most importantly, a patriotic and dedicated workforce. Not only should the Army consider maintaining the status quo here, this is where reallocated unites should be brought. That’s my message to take back to Army leadership.”
A representative from the Department of the Army, Army Col. Karl Konzelman, was in attendance to hear all comments and take them back to the Pentagon.
“I assure you that the senior leaders take this very seriously,” Konzelman said. “No decisions have been made, and I really want to emphasize that. At this point, we are unclear where any units are going to be inactivated at any installation across the United States.”
Based on the Army’s current budgetary requirements, the force reduction will decrease the Army’s size by 80,000 from the wartime high of 570,000. Fifty thousand have already been drawn down from overseas installations. The remaining 30,000 will need to come from the U.S.
With the potential of up to 4,100 personnel cut from Fort Eustis, there could be a significant economic impact to the area.
“Fort Eustis itself has over 10,000 military and civilian employees that work on this installation, day in and day out,” said Army Major General Ross E. Ridge, Senior Commander Army Element for Joint Base Langley Eustis. “We have over 5,800 students and 11,000 military family members that either live on the installation or in a surrounding community. Combined with Langley, we contributed about $2.4 billion last year to the local economy through pay roll, expenditures and other jobs. Needless to say, Fort Eustis has a significant place within this particular community.”
Here’s a sample of what other state and local leaders had to say at the listening session.
Senator Tim Kaine: “Fort Eustis, and the entire Hampton Roads area, have a deep connection to the Army, and to our military. As we start a new session of Congress, the 114th Congress, we will be working very directly on both military preparedness and national security strategy, but also important budgetary issues. These budgetary issues, as you know, have affected virtually everything we do in the federal government. Even leading to furloughs of employees leading to calendar year 13, leading to a government shutdown of about two weeks in October of 2013. These were tough, wrenching decisions that were all driven by controversies over the budget, so the purpose of a listening session today, is to raise your concerns and share them with both your superiors in the Army and those of us at a policymaking level can hear you and make better decisions.”
Dr. Ashby Kilgore, Newport News Schools Superintendent: “The military has been a very, very wonderful and unique partner to us at Newport News Public Schools. Each day, the soldiers and the airmen from Langley and Fort Eustis, they volunteer in our schools, they tutor our young students, they provide career pathways information and participate in career fairs, they mentor young people and in everyway, they serve as role models for career readiness as well as citizen readiness in Newport News. “
Mike Kuhns, Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce President & CEO: “We have welcomed the U.S. Army service members and their families into our communities, our churches, our schools and our businesses, and have actively provided social services resources, educational opportunities, employment, recreational activities and careers opportunities upon separation.”
Guy Manchester, Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce: “The three C’s of community—courage, caring and commitment—they are alive and well here in this room and outside the gates, and we expect that will be the atmosphere and the attitude going forward.”
Dewey Hutchins, Virginia Peninsula Association of Realtors President: “We have 1,000 members of the Virginia Peninsula Association of Realtors, but not only do we have 1,000 members who represent the home buying and home selling public and property owners throughout, but many of our members are either retired military, military spouses who work in the real estate industry and some active military as well. Our connection to Fort Eustis is very strong. Fort Eustis is very important to us. Not only for the effects that is has on real estate, but also because of the economy for this area. We all know the importance of the economy dictates how our real estate market goes. The impact of the reduction on Fort Eustis will be having tremendous effect on us.”
Thomas Sheppard, York County Board of Supervisors: “We understand all the history, we understand all the impact, we understand the budget, but what the military and the Army, specifically, of Fort Eustis have built in this community is a community. It has built a community.”
George Wallace, Hampton City Mayor: “Our citizens value the commitment and dedication of our soldiers and their families who proudly serve and live in our surrounding communities. “
Mayor McKinley Price; Newport News City Mayor: “Fort Eustis has been an integral part of our community since the early 20th century and we are certainly proud to be home to this great installation. The city of Newport News views the military and the presence of Fort Eustis in our community, metaphorically, as a three-legged stool. One leg is the support from a national security perspective, another is the economic value that the Army presence brings to the economy, not only in Newport News but to the Peninsula. The third leg is the tremendous value that military and civilian personnel associated with Fort Eustis bring to our community.
ABOUT THE VIRGINIA PENINSULA CHAMBER OF COMMERCE:
The Virginia Peninsula Chamber of Commerce (VPCC) serves the Cities of Newport News, Hampton and Poquoson; and James City County and York County.
VPCC is a business association, with more than 1,400 members and associates, which "Connects Business with Opportunity" through Facilitation, Advocacy, Communication and Education.
In addition to taking a leadership and advocacy position on pro-Peninsula and pro-business public policy impacting the Virginia Peninsula business community, the VPCC hosts a series of educational, and leadership programs, including the annual State of the City events for Newport News, Hampton and Poquoson; the Peninsula Executive Leadership Forum; Military Day, Job Fair and Recognition Luncheon; Young Entrepreneurs Academy; Pink Bag Lunches; and Business Connections, in addition to numerous business roundtables. As of 2013, YEA! Has graduated 1,394 students who have started over 1,000 businesses and social movements.
The VPCC is located at 21 Enterprise Parkway, Suite 100 in Hampton. For more information, call 757.262.2000 or email info(at)vpcc(dot)org.
Connect to the VPCC online at http://www.vapeninsulachamber.com and via LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+.