Camp Lejeune's 75 Years Are Lucrative for the State

Billions of dollars.

That's what Camp Lejeune adds to the state's bottom line.

"Besides agriculture, the base has been the primary economic engine of this community, so it is really a symbiotic relationship that has worked tremendously well for decades" said Nat Fahy, director of Public Affairs at Camp Lejeune.

Fahy added that this relationship is vitally important as nearly 75 percent of Marines and their families live off base in the surrounding areas and rely on local businesses, government services, recreational areas and churches for basic services and quality of life.

There are an estimated 36,178 active duty service members assigned to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina's oldest Marine Corps base. It is turning 75 on Friday and "Home of Expeditionary Forces in Readiness" is celebrating with a special morning colors ceremony, cake and historical displays.

"On Friday we'll do things a bit differently" Fahy explained. "We will use Friday morning colors to mark the 75th anniversary of the base's inception with some pre-ceremonial music provided by the 2nd Marine Division Band and remarks by base commander Brigadier General Thomas D. Weidley."tar

Camp Lejeune's total economic impact on the state reached $3.54 billion in 2015, according to the Marine Corps Installations East Economic Impact report.

The same report states that the combined economic impact of Cherry Point air station, New River and Camp Lejeune totalled $6.12 billion, a figure that has Onslow County officials appreciating Camp Lejeune's location along the coast of Onslow County.

There is also an impact in terms of "human capital."

"When you have someone that's retired or done time with the military, they have so many good soft skills, like time management and good work ethic," President of the Jacksonville Onslow Chamber Laurette Leagon said. Like Charles Ritter, a former U.S. Marine Corps dog handler who remained here after his service at Camp Lejeune. He has since been hired by Jan Morgan, owner of Off Leash K9 Training in Jacksonville.

Ritter uses his specialization in Military Working K9 explosive detection, combat tracking and specialized search operations to train dogs. The occupation extends financial security to his family while he uses his training learned as a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps.

"I thinks that's one of the great things about my job at Off Leash, my work directly correlates with what I know, with what I love, and what I care about" Ritter said Tuesday.

Leagon said leaders of the base and local government work well together and hold quarterly meetings to talk about things that matter to both communities like road construction, waterways, and growth and development in fly zones.

"The one thing I'm seeing in chamber membership and the community are retired military opening small businesses in Onslow County; things like dry cleaning stores, car washes, candy stores and restaurants," Leagon said. "It's really wonderful that the military community is deciding to stay in the area."

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