A strategic plan to guide Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow is near completion and will most likely include a consultant to direct day-to-day efforts in the fight to keep base jobs.
The board of directors of the lobby group met at Havelock Tourist and Events Center and learned that efforts aimed at preserving Cherry Point and Fleet Readiness Center East will get $125,000 of the $500,000 allocated by the General Assembly.
Craven County Manager Jack Veit, also an ex-officio board member, said, “The check arrived and the money’s in the bank.” Craven County will be the conduit for state support.
About $30,000 of that can be used by ACT in addition to the money used to pay for the strategic plan developed by consultant Marc Finlayson and presented to the board for its review and input.
The plan further defines the group, which was originally organized to support efforts to keep Cherry Point military and civilian jobs during the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process.
The base accounts for an estimated $2 billion in annual economic impact and more than 38,600 people in Craven County have a direct connection to the military.
The board appeared to be ready to adopt the plan and to give Finlayson the consulting job until the end of this fiscal year but delayed action until a Friday meeting when changes suggested are incorporated into the plan and they have met with Washington, D.C., lobbyists scheduled to report on Tuesday.
Jimmy Sanders, board president and Havelock mayor, said that once the immediate threat passed, those in the large group went their ways. Some are no longer in the area or working in the capacity in which they served at that time.
The large group will remain, but the new board can meet and react more quickly to proposed Defense Department changes and cutbacks and guide local government and business action that could prove incompatible with a military air station.
Under the proposed plan, the board would include representation from Craven, Carteret, Pamlico and Jones counties, look for support from state and local governments, and support efforts to keep the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter in production and destined for Cherry Point.