By Bruce Zielsdorf Marching Billions Into The Texas Economy
Lt. Gen. Ray Odierno, III Corps commanding general, joined Susan Combs, Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, to present results of an analysis showing the economic impact of Fort Hood, the country's largest military installation, on the Texas economy and the region.
The short list:
- Fort Hood's economic impact last year is estimated at $10.9 billion statewide; $4.4 billion of that money had a direct impact across central Texas.
- One out of every 10 active duty soldiers in the Army is assigned to Fort Hood.
- Since the beginning of the global war on terror, Fort Hood has surged in capacity to an authorized strength over 53,000 soldiers, reaching a troop strength peak of 55,800 in March 2008.
- Fort Hood is ranked No. 1 among the Army's 97 installations in terms of "future" capability.
Odierno talked about the strengthening of collaboration between Fort Hood and Texas leaders, emphasizing the major role Fort Hood plays in deploying American forces worldwide, Fort Hood soldier successes in the war on terror and how the post's growth has impacted the Texas economy.
The general explained the briefing was intended to highlight the strong and continuously expanding relationship between Fort Hood, central Texas leaders and state officials.
"This partnership over many years has translated into a significant economic impact for all of Texas," Odierno said. "We operate one of the largest and most diverse military posts in the world, with more than 52,000 soldiers currently assigned to Fort Hood and more than 70,000 family members. And 98 percent of our soldiers live within 10 miles of the post."
In an April letter to William H. Perry, III, executive director of the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance, Combs estimated Fort Hood's annual statewide economic impact at $10.852 billion. The figure is based on 2007 data provided to the Texas Comptroller's office.
The total economic impact combines direct expenditures of $4.4 billion with indirect impacts estimated at $6.45 billion related to Fort Hood's spending on the Texas economy. The current figures update the February 2005 estimate of $6.09 billion.
"Direct expenditures increased 45.8 percent over the 2005 figures," Combs noted. "And Fort Hood's total economic impact increased 78.3 percent."
Combs provided a breakout of the 2007 economic impact figures, which included:
- $9.7 billion in military and civilian pay;
- $330 million for military construction projects;
- $730 million in contracts and other expenditures; and
- $100 million of federal impact aid.
Fort Hood "is not only a jewel in a crown of Texas," Combs explained, "but it is a hugely important economic driver for the state. It's an asset for the central Texas region."
"The economic future of central Texas and Fort Hood looks even brighter with the addition of even more soldiers over the coming years, based on the growth of the Army through 2013," Odierno added.
Growing the Army, as Odierno points out, will have a direct economic impact on Fort Hood and central Texas. As many as 3,200 additional troops could be stationed here, Combs added. Seven neighboring counties in central Texas should see significant economic gains as a result.
"We could see an increase of more than 6,000 jobs and an increase in salaries of about $350 million," Combs said. "And across the state as a whole, the positive effect would be even bigger. We could see a new job generation of about 36,500 jobs. Statewide, the typical impact of a brigade of about 3,500 troops should generate 10,000-plus jobs and earnings of more than $563 million. This is real money."
Combs also noted the state will continue to spend money to improve conditions surrounding Fort Hood: "The general and I are talking about infrastructure and road improvements, and I have already been in touch with the Department of Transportation to assist them in taking a look at the huge positive effect here."
"Fort Hood also distinguishes itself as the largest single local-location employer in the state of Texas, with over 12,000 civilian employees and contractors working here. That number continues to grow on a daily basis," Odierno said.
"No installation has deployed more units and soldiers than Fort Hood," the general added. "Our tremendous successes in the global war on terror are in great part due to the amazing support our soldiers receive from the great residents of central Texas. We know this strong partnership will carry on as Fort Hood continues to develop and grow."