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Cumberland Valley Navy base provides major economic impact

Naval Support Activity Mechanicsburg is Cumberland County’s largest employer and includes a $330 million payroll and $137 million in local contracts.

Located in Hampden Township, the installation is 806 acres with 122 facilities, 1 million square feet of warehouse, 31 housing units, 12.9 miles of railroad line, 26 miles of roads and a dollar value of $1.07 billion.

“There are a lot of people who work on the base who are residents of not only Hampden Township, but the surrounding community,” said Al Bienstock, township commissioner. “They have an economic impact for the businesses and professional practices in the area.”

Bienstock is a member of the executive committee of the Cumberland York Area Local Defense Group. Formed by Gov. Tom Corbett’s administration, the group hopes to counter any possible base realignment and closure program activity.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel proposed another round of BRACs for 2015. However, Congress has been reluctant to authorize it. The last round of BRACs occurred in 2005, and Carlisle Barracks was on an initial list before being removed.

The NSA Mechanicsburg data was reviewed at a recent meeting of the defense group. Capt. Jeffery Rathbun, who oversees the installation, attended to discuss the economic impact. While NSA Mechanicsburg brings a lot to the area, Cumberland County is a great location for the Navy, Bienstock said this morning.

“The area brings something to the base and what that is primarily is a combination of a very dedicated workforce at a relatively low cost when you factor in the cost of labor in some of the major cities around the country,” he said.

Through the Cumberland Area Economic Development Corp., the local defense group received a $45,000 grant to lobby for these three military installations and defense-related stakeholders: the War College/Carlisle Barracks, NSA Mechanicsburg and Defense Logistics Agency Distribution Susquehanna in New Cumberland.

The Pennsylvania Military Community Protection Commission reached out to CAEDC in February to establish the local group, which is made up of federal, state, county and local elected officials, in addition to community and business leaders.

“The idea this time is to look at the entire state and not look at each area locally to defend the local bases,” Bienstock said.

The full article from the Central Penn Business Journal can be found here.

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