Stennis Groups Ready To Fight For Navy Center

The Pentagon's plan to close the Navy Human Resource Center at Stennis Space Center won't happen without a fight.

Two groups, Partners for Stennis and the Stennis Military Council, are mobilizing members in Mississippi and Louisiana. The groups plan to make the case for keeping the Navy Center open and the 158 jobs that come with it.

Seven years ago, the Navy consolidated records, payroll and personnel services for the 27,000  Naval employees in six Southeastern States.

Chuck Benvenutti, the Chairman of Partners for Stennis, believes the center has proven its worth.

"The Human Resources Southeast that's out there is one of the top ten service centers in the country as far as productivity and getting the job done. We've looked and found that they're actually ranked and they're actually graded."

It's that proof of performance that business and community leaders will use hoping to convince the Navy and the Base Realignment and Closure Commission to keep the Center open, instead of shifting the work and the jobs to the Navy's Service Center in Pennsylvania.

"One of the strategies is to find out exactly what prompted the commission to put the Navy shared service center on the list to begin with. The cost of doing business certainly has to be factored into the strategy, and we know that the cost of doing business on the Mississippi Gulf Coast is far less than doing business in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania," Tish Williams, President of Partners For Stennis, said.

The benefits of doing business in Hancock County were strong enough for NASA to select Stennis for its agency wide service center, a point Williams plans to make.

"We believe if we can win and land a NASA shared services center, then why can't we keep a Navy shared services center. And that's one of our questions."

Stennis Partners and members of the military council will take those questions to Washington D.C. next week.

"We will have 20 people from the Mississippi and Louisiana area and we'll be meeting with members of Congress. We're going to do everything we can to make sure we don't lose these jobs for our community," Williams said.

Group leaders say BRAC will have to prove to them in numbers and hard facts, that moving the center to Pennsylvania will be in the best interest of the nation before they'll accept it.

No one at the Stennis Resource Center would comment about the BRAC recommendation.

by Al Showers