Despite the continuing threat posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, and now the new Omicron variant, good economic news continues to trickle in for Carteret County, the region and the state, which is proof that North Carolina, and of particular note the coast, is primed for significant growth.

Early this week Congress passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for 2022 which stands to infuse $266.2 million for investment in the military installations located in the state over the next fiscal year. Of that total $239 million is targeted for construction projects at both Marine Corps Bases Camp Lejeune, New River Air Station and MCAS Cherry Point. The balance of 27.2 million is earmarked for projects at US Army Base Fort Bragg.

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis noted in his announcement that in the past seven years North Carolina has been the beneficiary of over $3 billion in federal expenditures for all the major military installations in the state which also includes Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Goldsboro.

Considering the overall impact of the military investment in the five-county region of Carteret, Craven, Onslow, Jones and Pamlico Counties the passage of the NDAA is of particular importance.

Jamie Norment, attorney with Ward and Smith P.A., who serves as the government affairs director for Allies for Cherry Point’s Tomorrow, a local lobbying group supporting the mission of the Havelock based air station, noted in a recent interview that the operations at MCAS Cherry Point represent the largest economic engine in eastern N.C. According to Mr. Norment, the private contractors working at the air station and the associated operations at the Fleet Readiness Center located on the base, “employ over 15,000 people and pump over $2.2 billion into the local economy annually.”

Overall, when including the military as well as the private sector investment, the impact for the five-county region exceeds $11 billion annually.

This success on the part of the state’s U.S. Senators Tillis and Richard Burr has not come about by accident. The local communities, aware that the defense department is not hesitant to close a military installation that is no longer able to maintain full operations due to encroachment, have been proactive in protecting the installations from development that will either restrict growth and/or their missions.

Both of the region’s state legislators, Rep. Pat McElraft and Sen. Norman Sanderson, have consistently carried the message to Raleigh that North Carolina needs to be more understanding and supportive of the mission of the state’s five major military installations and also its numerous Coast Guard facilities. The Coast Guard comes under Department of Homeland Security and not the Department of Defense, but because of that agency’s close affiliation with the military and its numerous installations along the state’s 12,000-mile coastline, it is also lumped in with the state’s military investment.

North Carolina has over the years become more aware of the value of the military in the overall state economy and culture. This year, with the passage of the 2022-23 budget, the first full budget since 2017, the legislature established two major dedicated efforts aimed specifically at making the state more responsive to the military investment of both the installations and the growing number of military retirees.

Recognizing that retiring military personnel provide a wealth of talent in a variety of fields and are often sought after by corporations engaged in military contracts, the state legislature is exempting military pensions from state income tax. By doing this, the legislature is hoping to entice military retirees to remain in the state after they separate from active service, thereby creating a workforce that is attractive to military contractors or other private sector operations.

Additionally, the legislature has stepped up its support for the local efforts such as ACT by creating a $1 million fund to be used by the NC Military Affairs Commission. The fund is designed to enhance efforts supporting continuation and growth of military installations and military defense industries. It is also available for a state response to any proposed military base realignment or closure.

North Carolina is now moving rapidly up the ranks in growth and economic expansion nationally. Because the state is sensitive to the changing economic environment that is becoming more volatile, and because state and local leaders are more fiscally conscious, North Carolina is recognized as a more attractive and stable location for long term investment for both private investors and the federal government.

(4) comments

Sleepwalker

M.I.C…look up Ike’s warning from decades ago. I benefit from it much like many from this area…but there’s truth to Ike’s warnings.

David Collins

Very few know who Ike was or what he said even means . Anyhoo , a bit too late anyway .

Sleepwalker

Collins…the jeannie IS out of the bottle for sure. Those on the outside will never grasp the enormity of the MIC.

Sleepwalker

I will also add. The OLF some time ago showed how the military operates. You don’t want us here…fine… we’ll take our jets AND checkbook elsewhere…someone will put up with our aggravation for the $$$

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