by Jerry Weiers
Hearing the stories associated with the military in Arizona, it’s easy to see why we are so eager to support the men and women at Luke Air Force Base.
Beyond what these brave soldiers do in protecting our nation each and every day, their contributions to our state cannot be overlooked. Their operations impact our everyday economic lives; this is the untold, and oftentimes overlooked, Arizona story.
As chairman of the House Military Affairs and Public Safety committee, I am honored to work on these issues and have gained an understanding of the real impacts military installations like Luke AFB have on our state.
The state of Arizona is now being presented with a once-in-a-generation opportunity to bring the military’s next generation fighter pilot training mission to Arizona – the F-35. It should be the job of every Arizonan to actively support the Luke Forward campaign to bring this joint strike fighter to our state.
Adding this training program to Arizona’s military installation in Glendale will help protect and grow Arizona’s economy, add high quality jobs and increase investments here.
Following World War II, defense industry production and manufacturing companies moved from the West and East coasts and found new homes inland. Arizona earned a lion’s share of those jobs and employers. Decades later, the aerospace and military-related industries in Arizona continue to be a critical platform of our state’s economic engine.
Consider the impact of 45,000 employees around the state. Their home and car purchases, their retail impact, their travel – and each of these multipliers generate state tax revenue to provide families with health care, education and other vital services.
Aerospace manufacturers and all of their supply chain partners add to this ripple effect on the economy.
This holistic viewpoint demonstrates the true value of military installations in Arizona. Beyond the military operations around the state, including civilian employees and the military contractors (such as aerospace manufacturers), there are countless businesses who benefit directly from these activities.
In 2008, the Arizona Department of Commerce commissioned The Maguire Company to study the overall impact of military operations in the state. The study found that:
· 45,000 full time employees work in military operations in Arizona
· 75,000+ military retirees live near our military bases in Arizona
· $2.1 billion in annual payroll and retirement benefits are added to the Arizona economy
· $3.2 billion in direct economic output in Arizona
· $9.1 billion in direct, indirect and induced impacts
The F-16 mission at Luke Air Force Base continues to train and deploy the nation’s best fighter pilots. Training the nation’s best fighter pilots is a long-standing mission at Luke, and it must continue.
All Arizonans have a direct call to action – our citizens and our elected leaders must fight for Arizona to earn the next fighter jet training mission. The F-35 training mission will secure the future of our state’s military operations and create a more robust economy that benefits every Arizonan.
There’s no tomorrow in this effort – Luke and Arizona need our support today.
State Representative Jerry Weiers serves the voters of District 12 in the West Valley and is the chairman of the House Military Affairs and Public Safety Committee. He also is a licensed pilot and a member of the Civil Air Patrol.