A decision to construct a $3.6 billion East Coast missile defense site at Camp Ravenna Joint Military Training Center clearly would provide an economic boost for northeastern Ohio. The outstanding question for local officials is the degree to which surrounding communities would grow and which ones will benefit the most. “You put 800-some new jobs into a community, there’s going to be a ripple effect,” said Rep. Tim Ryan (D). “People on base are going to need someplace to spend their paycheck; they’re going to need to live somewhere, and Portage County is primed to do that,” Ryan told the Record-Courier.
Before the region can enjoy the fruits of a new mission, the Pentagon will need to decide whether to go ahead with the project, which would host ground-based interceptors designed to protect the United States from ballistic missile attacks. That decision is expected shortly. And then the Missile Defense Agency will need to select among the three candidate locations — Camp Ravenna, Fort Drum, N.Y., and Fort Custer Training Center, Mich. A site decision could take several months.
In addition to bolstering the city of Ravenna, the new mission would benefit the village of Windham if the installation opts to reopen its long-closed north gate. During construction, the project would employ between 400 and 600 people. When it becomes operational, the missile site would employ up to 800 people. Of course for the region to fully benefit, it will need to ensure it can accommodate the influx of new residents.
“That could be 500 to 600 households,” said Shawn Rohlin, an associate professor of economics at Kent State University. “These policymakers do need to figure out how to handle an increase in demand for housing,” he said.
Photo courtesy of Missile Defense Agency