Havelock business leaders spent two days in the nation’s capital last week, meeting with legislators and federal officials.
Stephanie Duncan, executive director of the Havelock Chamber of Commerce, said a presention from Gen. James F. Amos, Marine Corps commandant, spelled out the impact personnel drawdowns and cuts could have on the area.
She said Amos expected total Marine Corps personnel to fall to around 174,000, meaning North Carolina would lose about 11,000 Marines and 13,500 in military families and dependents. Duncan said that would cost the state about $494 million in salaries alone.
Duncan said she asked about the impact sequestration and defense budget cuts were having on force readiness.
“They said the Marines would do what it takes to get the job done,” she said.
She said the message she heard from legislators was that Havelock was doing what it needed to support Cherry Point and keep the base and the Fleet Readiness Center East aircraft repair facility on the minds of congressional leaders.
“I asked them what we needed to do, and they said we were doing it,” Duncan said. “We need to stay positive and get the message out.”
Duncan said she was told there simply wasn’t enough business to support a lift fan facility at FRC East to compliment one in Indiana, but that could change.
“We’re the next logical location,” she said.
Duncan said part of the trip involved the importance of the film industry in the state, with $376 million spent annually. The television show “Sleepy Hollow” recently filmed in Havelock and New Bern.
“It’s a market we’re fighting for, but I think we can win it because we have so many different landscapes in North Carolina,” she said.
Duncan said she carried concerns of local business owners about healthcare to legislators.
“There’s uncertainty, and that’s affecting businesses,” she said. “No matter what your political will is, it’s time to make a decision and move on.”
She said the Havelock contingent, which included Barb Whiteman, Brenda Wilson, Amanda Ohlensehlen and Maria Ness, was well received.
“One of the things I’m proud of is that we were told in these offices that no one comes in front of them like we do,” Duncan said. “The city of Havelock is there in the spring. We’re there in the fall, and they have said as a result of us being in front of them, we’re kind of their priority because we’re good at keeping our priorities in front of them, and I’m very proud of that.