Monday, January 26, 2009

SC installations could see construction boom

SC installations could see construction boom

The Associated Press
Posted : Sunday Jan 25, 2009 18:02:38 EST

COLUMBIA, S.C. — Nearly $1 billion worth of construction projects planned at two South Carolina military bases may boost the local jobs market as the region struggles through a sagging economy, officials said.

Fort Jackson could see a dozen projects valued at some $800 million over the next few years as the base continues to expand with two new military missions that have moved there, The State newspaper of Columbia reported.

“This new construction will bring jobs and capital expenditures to our community at a most welcome time,” said Ike McLeese, president of the Greater Columbia Chamber of Commerce.

Among the top project items are four facilities set to open in 2010: $11 million for a chaplains’ school, $24 million for a drill sergeants’ school, $24 million for lodging facility and $30 million for a dining site.

Meanwhile, the military is also spending about $170 million at Shaw Air Force Base. The Sumter installation is preparing for the arrival of the 3rd Army headquarters in the fall of 2011.

Economic leaders said the spending will add jobs and investment to the community, and it’s coming at a critical time — South Carolina’s 8.4 percent jobless rate tied California in November as the nation’s third worst. A state government study found the annual economic impact of Fort Jackson is $2.6 billion, and $1.1 billion for Shaw.

Still, with the rapid growth at both sites, communities are trying to curb encroaching businesses and housing developments which could restrict future expansion and hamper base operations.

“The partnering of the business community, military and state and local governments will be critical to the effective execution of a long-range strategy that will benefit all for many years to come,” said George Patrick III, executive coordinator of the S.C. Military Base Task Force.

Much of the development is related to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission that assigned a larger military presence to the South Carolina bases.

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