Monday, August 1, 2011

Travis AFB is critical to Solano’s economic future

By: Sandy Person, Interim President, Solano EDC

Thousands of residents will converge on Travis Air Force Base this weekend for the Team Travis Air Power Expo 2011, this year featuring the Thunderbirds. It’s a great event that gives Travis the opportunity to show off a little, and entertain and inform people of all ages.

While we encourage this as a great family outing, it’s also a good time to reflect on just what Travis Air Force Base means to Solano County.

It’s just too easy to take the base for granted, or think of it as a place where the U.S. Air Force has airplanes. It is much more than that and it is vital to our County’s economic well being.

This one figure tells it all: $1.5 billion. That what Travis means annually in payroll, operating costs and the value of the jobs at the base.

For years Travis has been our biggest employer, and it has survived the military base cutbacks. Our government and business community has recognized the importance of Travis and worked diligently to assure we continue to have Travis AFB as a part of our community.

But, Travis is much more than just a $1.5 billion number. It is a community of some 13,000 people – 10,000 military and 3,600 civilians. It’s a community of $13.5 billion in assets and expenditures, 96 miles of roads, 418 buildings, 6400 acres, 58 aircraft, 1,000 dorm rooms,.

 And right now, in the midst of the economic downturn, some $150 million in construction projects are underway or planned. Included is $50 million for a runway repair replacement, $22 million for dorms to replace 1950 living quarters, $12 million for a new airfield fire station and $13 million to replace the fuel distribution system. All of these projects mean good paying jobs and more money in our communities.

Some 1200 families live on base, with many more living our surrounding communities.

Take all of these facts, and add the 100,000 retired military and civilian personnel who live within 50 miles of Travis and one can easily see just what an impact this military facility has on our county.

The numbers speak for themselves. They tell the story about Travis AFB and just what it means to our communities.

We have seen many retired military personnel step into key roles to help out communities. They have served as Solano County commissioners, mayors of our cities, leaders of our chambers of commerce’s. They have started businesses, and joined existing firms.

There are many potential opportunities for economic growth, simply because Travis AFB is such a huge factor in the county’s future.

As the Department of Defense and Air Force budgets decline it is critical that Solano County government and private sector seek ways to help the base become more cost effective.

 Many of the factors which will contribute to the installation’s cost efficiency and mission effectiveness can be impacted by community and regional actions.

Solano EDC is committed to working with Travis AFB in any effort which will help bring about these changes.

 Why? Because what benefits Travis AFB also benefits Solano County!

Air Power!