Cherry Point released its annual economic impact report this week, showing a decline in overall workforce but an increase in overall impact.
The report lists the total workforce at the Marine Corps air station for fiscal year 2012 as 14,693, which includes civilian and military personnel. In 2011, the total workforce was 14,915.
Still, the overall economic impact the base had on the region increased from 2.05 billion in 2011 to almost $2.20 billion in 2012.
"I think any time that we have tangible evidence of the economic impact that MCAS Cherry Point makes, not only in the Havelock community but in the entire eastern region, it is a significant deal," said Stephanie Duncan, executive director of the Havelock Chamber of Commerce. "It makes a very big impact on the community members who sometimes just take it for granted."
She said the numbers prove that the base is a valuable economic asset that the entire region can’t afford to lose.
"In President Obama’s budget proposal, he does propose a BRAC for 2015, and we cannot afford as a community — not just in Craven County but in all the surrounding those surrounding counties — we cannot afford to lose that $2.2 billion dollar impact," she said. "We need to do whatever we can to protect it and work together and not work against one another to ensure its sustainability."
Included in the report was a statement from Col. Philip J. Zimmerman, commanding officer of Cherry Point.
"Our focus of effort remained: development of our work force; posturing the Air Station, ranges and outlying fields for the future; reorganizing to seek savings and efficiencies; and proactively engaging with the surrounding communities and cooperating on issues of mutual interest," he said.
With 222 fewer jobs, salaries dipped from $1.29 billion to $1.23 billion in 2012.
Still, the base was actively used, according to the statement from Zimmerman. The base’s air traffic control supported more than 70,000 military and civilian aircraft operating in the Cherry Point air space. The base’s ranges had more than 26,000 training events, and the air station, which serves as an aerial port of embarkation, supported 487 flights carrying nearly 60,000 passengers and 13,100 tons of cargo.
Beyond employment, the base also uses area companies and businesses for various contracts. Joyce and Associates Construction of Newport was the top contractor used by the base in 2012 with just more than $14 million worth of work going to the company. Other top contractors included Alderman Building Company of New Bern ($11.6 million), Team Construction of Beaufort ($11.1 million), Blue Rock Structures of Jacksonville ($5.3 million) and North State Mechanical of Jacksonville ($5.2 million).
Major construction projects completed on the base in 2012 include new ordnance magazines and a new fire station, while work continues on a new helicopter gearbox facility at Fleet Readiness Center East, new barracks buildings and infrastructure upgrades.
Beyond economic impact, the report mentions that 5,154 acres of easements were secured around the base and its ranges for protection against civilian encroachment and development in 2012.