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Report: Hanscom, Mass Bases Have Greater Economic Impact Than Expected

With Hanscom AFB and other Massachusetts military installations threatened by planned cuts to federal defense spending, the report is part of a defense mounted by the state's Military Assett and Security Strategy Task Force.

Massachusetts military installations support more than 45,000 jobs and contribute more than $13.7 billion to the state’s economy annually, and Hanscom Air Force Base has a key role in the Commonwealth’s “innovation economy,” according to a new report.

Released Tuesday, June 26, the report represents the state’s first preliminary findings on the jobs and economic impact of Massachusetts’ six military bases and comes as a result of the . 

That Task Force formed to protect and promote military bases across the state in the wake of the U.S. Department of Defense revealed a plan to reduce federal spending by about $500 billion over the next decade.

Meanwhile, , which occupies land in Lexington, Concord, Bedford and Lincoln and houses the 66th Air Base Group, as well as MIT’s Lincoln Laboratory.

According to the report, in fiscal 2011, Hanscom AFB employed 3,628 military, Department of Defense and non-DoD civilians who earned more than $500 million in salaries and benefits. Additionally, the base spent nearly $50 million on construction expenditures and almost $5.5. billion on research and development and acquisition activities.

“Hanscom Air Force Base is a major contributor to the economy of the Commonwealth. Directly and indirectly, this military installation is responsible for more than 18,100 jobs,” the report says. “The overall direct, indirect, and induced economic activity generated by the operational and procurement activities of Hanscom AFB exceeded $8.4 billion in FY 2011. Significantly, much of this activity involves technology and other innovative activities, a key sector of the Massachusetts economy, with an impact in communities and industries across the Commonwealth.”

To read the report in full, click on the PDF posted with the above images.

In his June 26 press release introducing the report, Murray said the state cannot afford to overlook the value of jobs and activities tied to Massachusetts military institutions, both in terms of the Commonwealth’s economy and national defense.

“The jobs and economic impact of jobs associated with the bases is greater than we ever knew,” said Murray.

In fact, the report’s findings indicate Hanscom, along with the U.S. Army’s Soldier Systems Center in Natick have key roles in the state’s “innovation economy,” and in the local cluster of defense and research institutions supporting military and national security. 

“Effective defense requires support from highly skilled workers, precision manufacturing and scientific and technical experts,” said Martin Romitti, the director of Economic and Public Policy Research with the UMass Donahue Institute, which collaborated with MassDevelopment to assess the economic and national security benefits of the Massachusetts bases. “Military bases like those in Massachusetts have become crucial hubs for promoting and making these connections and innovations possible, to the great benefit of U.S. national security and the economies of communities and industries across the Commonwealth.”

Local, state and federal officials have mobilized in defense of Hanscom and other Massachusetts military bases this year following news of the DoD plan for slashing defense spending and the Pentagon's request that Congress authorize a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).

Hanscom has been on the chopping block before, and officials were forced to fend of pressure to close the the base during the BRAC round in 2005.

Last week in Lexington, selectmen Chairwoman Deb Mauger, a member of the Hanscom Area Towns Committee, said BRAC is expected to happen and, while scheduled for 2014-2015, it could start as early is right after the November elections.

The Air Force is likely to be a focus this time around and Hanscom could be a target because it’s been there before and is facing other cuts. With that in mind, even as it works to defend the base, HATS has moved to position itself as the local redevelopment authority should Hanscom close.

“We’re in the schizophrenic state of working to save the base, and on what we’ll do if the base closes,” Mauger said, adding that HATS holds the view that saving the base is critical. “It’s critical economically, and patriotically, for our community and the Commonwealth to keep that base.”

Some good news came across recently, according to a recent report by The Boston Globe, when Massachusetts lawmakers received word of a renewed commitment from Secretary of the Air Force Michael P. Donley to retain the mission of the Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom AFB.

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Michael Barrett June 28, 2012 at 02:32 PM
Local community support for military bases really does make a difference in close cases, both to members of our Congressional delegation and to the federal government itself. So we need to summon a show of strong local backing for Hanscom AFB. As a candidate for MA State Senate -- and as someone who strongly opposes expansion of Massport's civilian airport, a separate operation that happens to share the Hanscom name -- you can count me in as a strong booster of advanced R&D by the military. After all, as Al Gore would tell you, the DOD funded the invention of the Internet.
x July 04, 2012 at 09:04 PM
Michael, Your support of one side of Hanscom Field but opposition to the other side labels you a hypocrite. Hanscom's general aviation activity is worth hundreds of millions to the local economy. There has been no real expansion at Hanscom in decades and airplanes have gotten much quieter. A politician who did not just pander to a NIMBY base would have a more realistic view of the airport. Reverend E. Raleigh Pimperton III

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