With the help of local legislator Mike Barrett, the State Senate has passed a bill authorizing $177 million in capital spending to expand and make improvements at the state’s six military installations. State Sen. Mike Barrett represents Bedford, Concord, Lexington and Lincoln, the four towns closest to Hanscom Air Force Base.
“Right now Hanscom attracts federal R&D dollars that otherwise wouldn’t be available to us,” said Barrett, who serves on the Veterans and Federal Affairs Committee. “In turn, we’re trying to show the Department of Defense that we’ll invest in infrastructure that enhances the base.”
The bonding authorization will likely fund $2.9 million at Hanscom for testing and integration of advanced software. The state is also reviewing ways to improve the base’s clean energy infrastructure, such as a possible solar energy field.
During a recent tour of the Air Force Base, U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Barrett and State Rep. Ken Gordon (D-Bedford) eyed cutting edge R&D projects underway -- for example, a drone that detects buried IEDs from the sky. An IT specialist by profession, Barrett said he was impressed with the cyber-security projects taking place at the base.
The workforce at the federal facility totals 5,828 military and non-military workers. Altogether, according to the University of Massachusetts - Donahue Institute, the six military installations contribute more than $14.2 billion to the state economy and support more than 46,000 jobs.
The legislation requires MassDevelopment to oversee and implement all improvement and expansion projects funded by the bonds authorized.
The bill also continues the work of the Massachusetts Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force. The Task Force works with representatives from the military, business community and government to bring new programs and innovative solutions to each base.
The Senate and House will now produce a compromise bill for final passage and consideration of the governor.