Captives of the Cold War Economy: The Struggle for Defense Conversion in American Communities

By John J. Accordino | Go to book overview

6
The State Politics of
Defense Restructuring:
Adjustment and Resistance

Previous chapters have described the sources of resistance and adjustment to defense-spending cutbacks in Virginia's defense-dependent communities. Resistance arose primarily during the base-closure process, but also when major defense-system contractors such as Newport News Shipyard faced contract cutbacks. (Recall, for example, the shipyard's congressional letter-writing campaign to secure funding of the CVN-76 carrier.1) The primary source of resistance to base closures was public officials, whose unwritten job descriptions include the necessity to at least show concern and possibly take action when local jobs are threatened.2 A secondary source of local resistance to base closures was local growth interests. And in several Virginia communities, local public officials and chambers of commerce mobilized jobholders at military installations and citizens-at-large to appear at BRAC Commission hearings and argue for retaining their military facilities.3

Adaptive responses arose both after procurement cutbacks and after base closures. In Virginia communities, at least, the primary source of adaptive response to procurement cutbacks was contractors who needed to keep their companies afloat. Local growth interests also needed to replace lost economic activity, but they played prominent roles only in adjustments to base closings, not contractor layoffs. Local politicians had to replace lost jobs and develop sources of real estate tax revenues, so they were a primary source of adaptive response to base closings. But they only assisted defense companies in the New River Valley area, where the traditional growth interests are weak. Another source of adaptive response to procurement cutbacks was the "technologydevelopment interest," whose promoters developed the Peninsula Advanced Technology Center and the Southwestern Virginia Advanced Manufacturing

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