Military downsizing could affect Valdosta-Lowndes Co. economy - - The News for South Mississippi

Military downsizing could affect Valdosta-Lowndes Co. economy

Myrna Ballard Myrna Ballard
Ron Borders Ron Borders

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is pushing for a smaller military...

And that could have a huge impact on the economy in the Valdosta-Lowndes County area.

With a potential Base Realignment and Closure looming in 2015, Valdosta, Lowndes County and the surrounding area is at risk of losing a key part of its economy...Moody Air Force Base.

"Moody is a tremendous part of our local economy," said Myrna Ballard, President of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce. "There are businesses in Valdosta who depend on Moody personnel for, some of them, nearly half of their total sales each year."

Moody Air Force Base contributes nearly $450 million dollars to the local economy annually.

Not only does the base put millions of dollars into the economy, it also helps attract businesses to the area.

"It means there's a good source of reliable revenue and income that's being circulated in our community every year," Ballard explained.

Ron Borders is a chamber board member and a real estate broker in Valdosta. He says the housing market in the area would collapse without the base.

"It would be a crisis; I don't know the extent of it," said Borders. "Our business is probably 30 percent military related and I'm gonna imagine that a good many of the other real estate businesses are 30 percent related to the military."

If a Base Realignment and Closure does happen next year and Moody Air Force Base is closed, the economic impact on the Valdosta-Lowndes County community would be felt for years.

"If Moody Air Force Base were to close, and remove all their personnel from here, the recovery period would be in the decades. There's no controversy about that," Borders pointed out.   

This Spring, members from the Valdosta Lowndes County Chamber and three other surrounding chambers will meet with Air Force officials at the Pentagon to make sure that everything that can be done to keep the base is being done.

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