Keesler Has 1.1 Billion Dollar Impact On Coast Economy

Base commander Greg Touhill says the base is achieving its mission of helping to renew the community when you consider its 1.1 billion dollar impact in South Mississippi.

Currently, the base is undergoing a five-phase, 950 million-dollar construction project, the largest in U.S. Air Force history.  One of the phases includes a new, off-base housing community for military families.

"We have 1,028 new units being constructed with local labor and local people building new and better homes for the community," says Touhill.

With more than 10,000 military personnel on base, businesses across the Gulf Coast are reaping the financial benefit.  One of those businesses is Joys of Coffee.  It's located outside Keesler's Pass Road gate.

"I would say approximately 80 to 85 percent of our business comes directly from Keesler Air Force Base.  Having that base here is definitely an impact on my financial success as well as our business," says Joy Young, owner.

"We're a huge contributor to the local economy," says Touhill.

The coast economy is also helped through volunteer programs the base supports.  In May, it will once again host the Mississippi Special Olympics.

"We anticipate as many as 1,000 Olympians coming on the base and competing in events," says Touhill.

The event brings athletes and coaches to the coast to fill hotels and eat in restaurants.

Ultimately, Touhill says the economic contributions the base makes to the coast is all about partnership.

"The people of the U.S. have invested an awful lot of money and resources in Keesler Air Force Base, and it's because we want to continue to remain partners on the Gulf coast."