Keesler Air Force Base working to improve community partnerships - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Keesler Air Force Base working to improve community partnerships

Top Air Force officials from the Pentagon were in Biloxi to help Keesler Airforce Base launch their community partnership program. (Image Source: WLOX News) Top Air Force officials from the Pentagon were in Biloxi to help Keesler Airforce Base launch their community partnership program. (Image Source: WLOX News)
A select group of civilians were invited on base for a conversation about how Keesler and the city of Biloxi can work together. (Image Source: WLOX News) A select group of civilians were invited on base for a conversation about how Keesler and the city of Biloxi can work together. (Image Source: WLOX News)
BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Top Air Force officials from the Pentagon are helping Keesler Air Force Base launch a community partnership program.

In an effort to unite the military community and the public, a select group of civilians were invited on base for a conversation about how Keesler and the city of Biloxi can work together. 

"In our economy here in South Mississippi, Keesler Air Force Base is one of the largest - if not the largest - contributors to our overall economy. So joining the needs of the base and the programs and resources we have available here with the needs and resources of the business community, I think, is really a great initiative," said Cree Cantrell, president of the Biloxi Bay area Chamber of Commerce.

The Air Force community partnership program started with top Air Force officials brainstorming ways for military installations across the country to reach outside their gates to find resources. 

"If the community already has something sitting right outside my gate, why do I necessarily need to reinvest and create the same thing on the installation? If we can work out a partnership to share those resources and then we all save money," said Colonel Michele Edmondson.

Colonel Timorah Beales, who works for the Assistant Secretary of the Air Force office in Washington D.C., says the partnerships that have already been created at other installations have been invaluable.

"We've been able to improve the training for some of our Air Force airmen, but we've actually already saved over $36 million just through partnerships within this program, and also the communities have saved over $24 million," said Colonel Beales.

Colonel Edmondson, the commander of the 81st Training Wing, feels that the base and the city already have a great working relationship, but this program solidifies that relationship for years to come.

"That fence line creates somewhat of an artificial barrier that doesn't have to be there when you think about partnering with the community," said Colonel Edmondson.

The first in a series of meetings, the end goal is to have contractual agreements between the base and certain entities to ensure those partnerships stay intact.

Copyright 2017 WLOX. All rights reserved. 

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