North Carolina Economic Development Guide

2012

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actions now that are unpopular — but not as unpopular as Vietnam. But now it's the other way around. The military is wel- comed with open arms." Reasons vary. After Vietnam and the end of the draft, the economics of attracting men and women to the military changed. Pay had to rise to populate an all-volunteer force. Now, a married, 10-year enlisted Marine, for example, can take home $50,000 a year or more, not counting benefits such as health care. An officer such as a lieutenant colonel, comparable to a midlevel manager in a large private company, earns $100,000 a year or more. Kleckley and others say such infusions of money smooth ruffled feathers resulting from training noise and other irritations caused by military operations. Nowhere are feathers smoother than in Fayetteville. Bo Gregory, director of economic development at the Fayetteville- Cumberland County Chamber of Commerce, says his region's per-capita income has climbed nearly as much as Jacksonville's, to about $41,000 a year in 2009, the most recent figures available. His associate Kristie Meave, a senior vice president, adds that direct military pay isn't the only factor in the per-capita income increases. Those in high-ranking govern- ment service now typically earn $80,000 a year or more. Even at Seymour Johnson, one of the state's smallest bases, the total economic impact exceeded $500 million in 2010, spokeswoman Robin DeMark says. At Fort Bragg, economists calculate that the base pumps $26 million a day, directly and indirectly, through the region's economy, Hinnant says. Military members stationed there took home more than $2.3 billion in pay in 2010. Not surprisingly, 11 counties and 53 small towns in the region have learned to love camouflage.

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