Friday, March 04, 2011

TOP STORY >> Base puts $712M in economy

Leader staff writer

Little Rock Air Force Base had an economic impact of more than $712 million on Arkansas in 2010, according to a report just released by the military.

That figure is up $12 million from the year before.

In 2010, the base spent more than $59 million on construction, $19.5 million on service contracts and utilities and another $75 million on supplies to stock the base exchange, commissary and other facilities.

On top of that, the base had a payroll of almost $376 million.

According to the report, the base indirectly created 3,118 jobs with an average salary of $38,470 a year.

Add to that another $62.7 million from the 189th Air Wing that is also housed at LRAFB and it comes to $712,833,182.

The base has more than 14,000 employees, plus 33,722 retirees, who are spending their salaries throughout Arkansas, particularly the central region.

The base has 5,623 military members assigned, with nearly all of them, 5,273, living off base. There are an additional 7,234 dependents and just over 1,600 civilian employees directly associated with the base.

The base, occupying 6,412 acres within the city limits of Jacksonville, is the home of C-130 Combat Airlift. The 19th Airlift Wing, the base’s host unit, is part of the Air Mobility Command and provides the Department of Defense with the largest fleet of C-130s in the world. As part of AMC’s global-reach airlift capability, the wing’s task requirements range from supplying humanitarian airlift relief to victims of disasters, to airdropping supplies and troops into the heart of contingency operations in hostile areas.

The base is also home to the 314th Airlift Wing and the 189th AW (Arkansas Air National Guard). Both of these units report to the Air Education and Training Command.

The 314th is the nation’s top C-130 training division, working with members from the Army, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and 42 different nations.

The base became operational in 1955 and is the largest C-130 base in the world.

The Strategic Air Command (SAC) approved the master plan for the base in January 1953, with a projected cost of $50,000,000, and the Pulaski County Citizens Council (PCCC), with Raymond Rebsamen as president and Arthur Phillips as fundraising chairman, spearheaded a campaign to raise between $650,000,000 and $800,000,000.

The Army Corps of Engineers, Little Rock District Office, oversaw the construction of the base. On December 8, 1953, official groundbreaking ceremonies were held. By the time LRAFB was officially activated on October 9, 1955, 100 officers and 1,134 airmen were located at the base. An open house was held for the public, and approximately 85,000 people attended.