Naval Base's Economic Impact is $6.6 Billion for Fort Worth

Sign by the main gate at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Ft. Worth, formerly Carswell AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Sign by the main gate at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Ft. Worth, formerly Carswell AFB, Texas. (U.S. Air Force photo)

FORT WORTH -- State Comptroller Glenn Hegar was in Fort Worth on Monday, touting the economic impact of Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, which he says contributes $6.6 billion to the economy last year.

"The economic impact is significant," Hegar said during a news conference at the Fort Worth Club. "If you live right next to the naval base, you understand it. If you're a little bit farther away in Fort Worth, you know it's here but you probably don't appreciate it."

The base's economic impact has actually dropped from $9.26 billion since 2012, said Kevin Lyons, a spokesman with the Comptroller's officer.

Statewide, Hegar said 15 military installations contribute $136.4 billion in total output and contribute $81.3 billion to the gross domestic product. Those military installations also employ 804,268 people "in some capacity."

The comptroller's office said the NAS Fort Worth provides 17,466 direct jobs and 47,256 jobs when adding indirect employment, such as someone who does business with the base. Lockheed Martin, which has 13,700 employees and a $1.4 billion payroll, is included in those numbers.

At NAS Fort Worth, there are 9,723 employees, including 5,957 National Guard and reserve personnel, 1,886 active duty and 1,880 civilians.

Lyons said the state report counts Lockheed employees and the tenants of the reserve base as "direct" employees but does not include the National Guard and reserve personnel

Hegar is touring the state to raise awareness of the impact of the military, which, he said, would qualify as the sixth-largest industry in the state.

The comptroller also said the numbers bolster the importance of the military to local and state leaders if another round of base closures occurs.

"I think we need to stay on our guard," Hegar said. "It's really important to get out the word to our congressional delegation so they know what the economic impact is here in Texas and they can stay on top of it because there will be probably be another round at some point Now what comes out of that, nobody knows."

Originally Carswell Air Force Base, the installation was targeted under the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 1991.

The joint reserve base came about when the Defense Department recommended moving Naval Air Station Dallas to Fort Worth along with consolidating commands from other naval air stations in Illinois and Tennessee. Congress signed off in September 1993, and on Oct. 1, 1994, Carswell became Naval Air Station Fort Worth.

Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price remembers the devastating impact of what took place 20 years ago and watches for any signs of another round of BRAC closures.

"This community stands ready to always fight a BRAC if we need to," Price said. "I think we're in good shape now because our Joint Reserve Base is a model base with a lot of people there."

But Price said Fort Worth works with other cities surrounding the base to stop development from encroaching on high-risk areas. She also said state funding is needed to improve roads leading into the base.

Navy Capt. Mike Steffen, commanding officer of NAS Fort Worth, said one benefit for military reserves is the ability to find jobs close to the base in the thriving Metroplex economy.

"The primary function of the base is the training and readiness of the tenant military units on the base," Steffen said. "However, we're extremely pleased at a mutually beneficial partnership that we have with the community and the economic impact we have on the community."

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