Four communities benefiting from growth at a neighboring military installation led the nation in personal income growth in 2010, with Elizabethtown, Ky., earning the top spot due in large part to an influx of thousands of service members and civilians relocating to Fort Knox as a result of BRAC.
Elizabethtown, where personal income climbed 10.1 percent, was followed by Lawton, Okla. (8.9 percent), Manhattan, Kan. (8.5 percent), and Hinesville, Ga. (7.9 percent). Military earnings in those four metropolitan statistical areas increased 14 percent or more, according to estimates released by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. Overall, personal income in the metropolitan portion of the United States rose 2.9 percent in 2010 after falling 1.9 percent in 2009.
Most of the new personnel coming to Fort Knox for BRAC already have arrived. About 2,500 soldiers and 2,500 civilians — and a total of 13,000 residents when you include family members — are slated to come to the post.
The effects of BRAC growth in Kentucky’s Heartland are unmistakable, helping to shield the region from the full effects of the recession, according to Mark Needham, special advisor to the governor for BRAC. “Housing markets are flourishing, restaurants and retail stores are busy, and the quality of life for soldiers and families is improving,” Needham said.
Other factors, such as being listed among the best places for attracting new businesses, helped personal income in Elizabethtown grow as well, according to the News-Enterprise.
Lawton’s jump in personal income directly stems from the 2005 BRAC round. DOD spent about $1 billion at Fort Sill, stimulating the housing and retail markets. “The engine that has driven the change for Lawton has been the growth and revamping of Fort Sill,” Tim Hushbeck, past chairman of the Lawton Fort Sill Chamber of Commerce, told NewsOK.com.
Similarly, growth at local installations played a role in the high rankings for Manhattan, host of Fort Riley, and Hinesville, host of Fort Stewart.