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mitchella81

Benning Economic Impact

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After reading a article in todays paper about the return of the 3rd Id to Ft. Benning it brings up the question is the Columbus area entirely too dependent on Fort Benning? The article stated that in the past 14 months sales have been down dramatically at local retail centers, car dealers, resturants, apartment complexes and nightclubs. However the return of the 3800 member 3rd Infantry Division is expected to be a major shot in the arm for the local economy. It would seem that when numbers are compared Ft. Benning employs only about 50,000 people currently while the city of Columbus has a population of nearly 190,000 and a metro trade area of nearly 400,000 Ft. Benning only makes up about a 1/4 of the economy. It would seem that our community needs to find a much better niche to supply the local markets during times of deployment. Even tourism in the city is largely supported by Benning. Most of the 1million tourist who visit the city annually are in town mainly for business at Benning such as Basic Training or AIT graudations. Many of these tourist just stay and shop in Columbus.How does everyone feel about this is the Columbus economy dependent too much on Fort Benning?

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I don't think Columbus is completely dependent on Fort Benning, but it does have a huge impact on the economy. Columbus is blessed to be diverse because of corporations like Aflac, Synovus, TSYS, Carmike Cinemas, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia, etc.

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Yeah those major corporations are here. However they only make up a small number of the employed for the entire community. Probaly combined about 20,000 people give or take a few thousand. A large number of the population works in retail and service type jobs. The exodus of the textile industry from this city really killed alot of dollars. Swift and other companies were paying people $14-$15+ an hour then they left and people were uneducated and forced to work in much lower level retail jobs like Wal-Mart or Kohls which really take advantage of there workers by paying only about $7-$10 a hour.

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Fort Benning's goings-on can definately send shockwaves through our local economy. I think it's easy to become dependent on such a ready dollar. I know local car and real estate sales folks have been counting the days for when those troops hit the Georgia clay. We are fortunate to have AFLAC and TSYS, etc. But Fort Benning's impact may have made our economic development folks a little complacent. I don't envy them having to compete with other cities with much better infrastructure. But as a city and as a market, the area should really focus on growing and diversifying our city from troops themselves to other industries. And that a troop deployment can mean the difference in positive or no population growth is a little bit disconcerting. It must be clear by now that I personally see the need for new Interstates in SW GA and SE AL as a top priority to build the foundations for the next 50 years.

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