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DEFENSE COMMUNITIES 360

Thinking outside the Base

  • December 20, 2011
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Looming cuts in defense spending, along with the prospect of a new BRAC round, should prompt communities that host military installations or weapons manufacturing facilities to consider relying on the civilian economy, peace activist Sanford Gottlieb writes in the Huffington Post.

The nation’s experience with five rounds of BRAC demonstrates that communities that suffer a downsizing can reinvent themselves, partially through the help of federal aid. The Philadelphia Navy Yard, for example, now houses 115 companies, including Urban Outfitters, Tasty Baking and pharmaceutical firms.

The St. Louis region overcame the decline of manufacturing at McDonnell Douglas by helping workers and defense companies transition into civilian markets. Officials in Long Island, N.Y., followed a similar strategy in response to the loss of manufacturing jobs at Grumman’s Bethpage plant.

A similar diversification is taking place in one of the nation’s largest military hubs, Hampton Roads, Va. With the loss of Joint Forces Command, officials are looking for new applications for the region’s expertise in computer modeling and simulation.

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