Keesler Equals Financial Coast Success

Nearly $2 billion dollars. That's the estimated economic impact Keesler Air Force base had on the Mississippi Coast last year. It's a 5% increase from the previous year, and Keesler officials say that number shows the successful relationship between the base and the community, and nearby business owners agree.

Only a few steps away from Keesler's Gate seven on Pass Road sits Joys of Coffee, a full service gourmet coffee shop.

It has only been open for about a year, and the owner admits the base is what keeps her business stirring successfully.

"We have approximately I would say anywhere between 85 and 95 % of our business comes from the base. With us being so close to the base, literally out of our back door is the base gate, so we, I don't believe we would have a business without that base," said Joys of Coffee owner Joy Young.

Keesler employs 16,500 people, 13,000 of which are military positions.

And these numbers have equaled success for a number of Coast businesses, thereby adding a few welcomed dollar signs to the overall economy.

Wing Zone owner Don Dupuis says he has seen a steady increase of business since opening outside of the gate a little over a year ago.

"When we saw this location from the very beginning we knew that this was a very good spot and it's proven out to be just that," said Dupuis.

Location is definitely the key for the Royal Cleaners.

Most of its business comes from airmen looking for a place to have their uniforms cleaned, but workers say no matter what the economic impact of the base, they are simply happy to provide the service.

"We love Keesler. They are wonderful people. They come in here and they show you respect and they're just like family," said Royal Cleaners cashier Jo Winters.

Keesler reports payroll, construction, and purchases accounted for $1.5 billion.

The rest comes from retiree pay, the value of volunteer services, and jobs indirectly created.