There are a variety of measures the region around Columbus, Ga., as well as the state, should pursue to help the Chattahoochee Valley overcome the loss of Fort Benning’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, according to the consultant studying the reduction’s economic impact.
The post is slated to lose 2,800 soldiers by the end of the summer, 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.
When dependents are added, the region can be expected to lose about 8,000 residents, said Sal Nodjomian, project manager and executive vice president of Matrix Design Group. “It’s a big economic impact,” Nodjomian said, reported the Ledger-Enquirer.
The consultant’s draft recommendations call for the state and the region to identify investment opportunities to enhance the post’s standing in the event of another round of base closures and to attract new missions.
The report also recommended the region find ways to diversify economically. Local leaders should develop a strategy to retain soldiers separating from the Army, including launching an incubator for veteran-owned businesses. Other recommendations include:
- developing a regional branding initiative;
- continuing ongoing efforts to partner with local colleges, universities and training programs to develop the workforce of tomorrow; and
- advocating for the Army to reverse its planned downsizing.