Sierra Vista Will Need to Adapt to Spending Cuts at Ft. Huachuca
Sierra Vista, and surrounding Cochise County, have benefited tremendously from a steady increase in defense spending at Fort Huachuca since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, helping to buffer southeastern Arizona from the most recent recession.
Climbing DOD budgets, however, are a thing of the past, forcing the region to accommodate a decline in defense employment and payroll, according to a commentary by Robert Carreirais, director of the Center for Economic Research at Cochise College, in the Sierra Vista Herald.
And despite the attention paid to a potential BRAC round and sequestration, the larger threat to the local economy comes from “general defense budget cuts that are the natural upshot of winding down two wars,” Carreirais said.
In fact, the local economy already is experiencing the effects of the drawdown. Austerity measures have cut travel to Huachuca for conferences and other business, and personnel assigned there on temporary duty now are staying on post instead of in the neighboring community. In addition, some defense contracts have not been renewed and, in many cases, contractor positions are being replaced with fewer civilians.
With the installation representing the county’s main economic engine, the reduction in defense spending is the “biggest threat to the Cochise County economy now and for the foreseeable future,” he said.