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BRAC-Mandated Military Airfield Closures: Short and Long-Term Economic Impacts on Small and Medium-Sized Communities

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Technical Report

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Air War College Air University Maxwell AFB United States

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The Base Realignment and Closure BRAC endeavor has long caused significant angst in communities hosting a military base. These communities, of course, fear economic doom if their base were to be closed. Are these fears well founded How have communities actually fared following a base closure This paper examines the short- and long-term economic fortunes of communities that experienced a BRAC-mandated military base closure during the 1990s. It adds to the body of research on the subject by examining a large number of communities, establishing a valid control group, and examining economic fortunes over nearly 20 years following base closure.It finds despite the often-virulent protests and doomsday forecasts, most communities coped with the closure and have fared well in the long-term. Local unemployment was usually slightly higher than normal for several years after a closure, but did recover. Long term job growth and pay growth in a community were, in general, not adversely affected by a base closure. A correlation was found, however, between community size and economic fortune small communities, on average, had a tougher go. However, a wide variation in economic performance existed across the communities studied, with some small communities faring quite well and some larger communities faring relatively poorly. Finally, this paper examines the unique nature of military base closure and proposes some reasons as to why a base closure is rarely the economic death knell its purported to be.

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