Leaders and other stakeholders from Columbus, Ga., participated in two public workshops last week to discuss the likely impact of the loss of Fort Benning’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
The post originally had been projected to lose 3,402 soldiers but the figure now is closer to 2,800. About 1,050 soldiers left in December, with the remaining 1,750 slated to leave by the end of July. The cuts are part of the Army’s latest restructuring, which will shrink its active-duty end strength from 490,000 to 450,000 by the end of fiscal 2018.
Attendees at the session on Thursday agreed that one strategy the Chattahoochee Valley should adopt in response to the changes is to find ways to retain separating service members, reported WTVM.
The community needs to dedicate resources to workforce training for veterans, said Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson. Convincing veterans to remain in the region should prompt the federal government to continue to invest in the Chattahoochee Valley area, Tomlinson said.
“We have state-of-the-art facilities, we have excess capacity, room for growth,” she said. “As other bases are having to close because they’re obsolete, why don’t they come on to Fort Benning?”
Matrix Design Group hosted the workshops for a study about the economic impacts of the cutbacks at Fort Benning. The study, primarily funded by DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment, also will consider strategies for diversifying the valley’s economy.
“The community really needs to figure out what else it can do to lead job creation and other things to make this a vibrant community,” said Sal Nodjomian, executive vice president of Matrix.