Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Naval Station Called Key for City; Economic Strength Can Be Traced to Base, Brown Says

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Naval Station Called Key for City; Economic Strength Can Be Traced to Base, Brown Says

Article excerpt

Byline: Jeff Brumley

Mayor-elect Alvin Brown had a message Friday for those in Jacksonville leaving or retiring from the military: Stay here.

Brown made the plea to a room full of Navy officers and area civic and political leaders at Jacksonville Naval Air Station.

The city's long-standing partnership with the base is key to the region's economic recovery and continues to be one of its biggest sources of jobs with about 22,000 military and civilian personnel.

"Much of Jacksonville's economic growth the last 100 years can be traced directly back to" the air station, Brown said, and its sailors represent "the best and the brightest" talent the Navy has to offer.

"It is my vision to make sure that when you retire or when you get out of the service, that you make this your home."

Brown was at the base Friday as part of the State of the Base presentation by Capt. Jeffrey Maclay, the station's commanding officer.

To be sure, the base produces numbers to make any municipality salivate. Maclay noted the facility has a $1.28 billion payroll and an annual economic impact of $2.1 billion.

One of its 118 tenants - Fleet Readiness Center Southeast - is the largest industrial employer in the region with 3,000 civilian and military personnel, according to its website.

The base has also been generating huge construction dollars recently, Maclay said.

Some $350 million in construction has been completed since 2009 and another $75 million in building is under way. That includes a $10.4 million Child Development Center opening next week, a $48 million training center for the new P-8A patrol plane opening this summer and an $8.4 million hospital renovation to be completed in the fall.

The first P-8A Poseidon, the eventual replacement of the aging P-3 Orion, is due to arrive at the base in the spring of 2012, he said. …

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