North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue (D) held the first of four regional military summits Thursday in the host community for Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, focusing on issues both inside and outside the installation’s gates affecting its long-term military value.
One issue that came up repeatedly was the region’s dependence on Cherry Point, reported the New Bern Sun Journal. The air station and Fleet Readiness Center East based there is the major employer for Craven and Carteret counties. For host Havelock, though, Cherry Point is even more significant, said Jimmy Sanders, the city’s mayor.
“We are a one-economy community. We love it, but it makes us more vulnerable,” he said.
Sanders, who also serves as president of Allies for Cherry Point, emphasized that leaders need to be aware of the impact of community projects on the base, using a wind farm as an example.
Other speakers, including Cherry Point’s executive officer, highlighted the significance of a variety of community issues, including educational opportunities for military families.
The goal of the regional summits is to assess the military’s impact on local economic development and find out where community shortfalls exist regarding infrastructure, encroachment, education and workforce, according to John Nicholson, the governor’s military affairs coordinator. The remaining ones will be held at Camp Lejeune, Seymour Johnson AFB and Fort Bragg, with a final, statewide one scheduled for Bragg on Sept. 29.