Cherry Point released its annual economic impact report last week, showing slight decreases in overall workforce and total economic impact in the last fiscal year.
According to the new report, the combined total of procurement construction, maintenance and service contracts, utilities, education, training and travel, health and medical contributions, concessionaire revenue opportunities, and military and civilian salaries was $2.16 billion in 2013, about $35 million less than in 2012. Economic impact in 2011 was $2.05 billion.
Fiscal year 2013 salaries of military and civilians totaled $1.21 billion, down from $1.23 billion in 2012 and $1.29 billion in 2011.
Total workforce at Cherry Point in 2013 was 14,520, down from 14,693 in 2012 and 14,915 in 2011.
Col. Chris Pappas III, commanding officer at Cherry Point, wrote in the report that the slightly lower numbers for the year were in part due to “endured complications from sequestration and personnel furloughs.”
“Together with our tenant commands, we continue to play a vital role in the economic stability of Eastern North Carolina, significantly contributing to the economic health of the entire state,” Pappas said in the report.
Despite the dip, Havelock Mayor Will Lewis said the base was still the biggest economic engine in Havelock and Eastern North Carolina.
“I am still pleased that they are continuing on at a good level,” he said. “We still reserve some concerns about the future and what things will look like, but for now, we are happy about that.”
Havelock Commissioner Danny Walsh said the 2013 decline was simply the start of what he expected to be declines in future years.
“Without some change from the government, it will continue downhill for the next five-plus years,” he said. “There is nothing in sight for Cherry Point until the F-35s replace the Harriers. That doesn’t start until 2020-something at best, so when the six squadrons that are scheduled to leave are all gone, Cherry Point won’t look quite as strong. This is my biggest fear. How do we survive until something else happens?”
One helicopter squadron has already left Cherry Point, with another scheduled to leave in 2015. The base’s Prowler squadrons will be deactivated beginning in 2016. Eventually, the base’s four AV-8B Harrier squadrons are to be replaced by six F-35B squadrons beginning in 2021 or 2022.
“I think that this will become a trend as the military draws down in our community,” Stephanie Duncan, executive director of the Havelock Chamber of Commerce, said of the decline. “Cherry Point is still extremely significant, and there is no other business or organization that can compete with this level of economic impact in Eastern North Carolina.”
The base continued to do business with industry in Eastern North Carolina, with Joyce and Associates Construction of Newport having $16 million in contracted work at Cherry Point, the top base contractor. Daniel and Daniels Construction of Goldsboro was at $12 million, followed by LTM of Havelock at $3.6 million, Alderman Building of Jacksonville at $3.5 million and Blue Rock Structures of Pollocksville at $3.1 million. In total, the base had $199 million in contracted work during fiscal year 2013, according to the report.
Of the total employment, Fleet Readiness Center East had 3,174 employees, but the aircraft repair and maintenance facility is currently hiring workers.
Overall, when taking into account retirees, dependents and active employees, the base directly impacted 57,187 people economically in Eastern North Carolina in 2013, including 36,027 in Craven County, 10,727 in Carteret County, 1,111 in Pamlico County and 273 in Jones County.