Military News

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

SJAFB impacts local economy

by Senior Airman Aaron J. Jenne
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/14/2015 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- Five months after the United States entered World War II, Seymour Johnson Field, in Goldsboro, North Carolina, activated during the summer of 1942. After the war, in 1946, the installation deactivated.

Led by then Goldsboro mayor, Scott B. Berkley Sr., local community leaders spearheaded a successful campaign to reopen the installation, and Seymour Johnson Air Force Base reactivated in 1956.

For nearly 70 years since, the base has been a central part of the community. There have been many advancements, improvements and changes over the years, but one commonality is the support and teamwork between the community and installation.

The base employs approximately 7,000 personnel, including active duty and reserve military members, civilians and private businesses with an overall economic impact for 2014 exceeding $594 million. These figures reflect payroll, appropriated funds, non-appropriated funds and various contracts.

According to Scott Stevens, Goldsboro city manager, there is much more to the picture than numbers alone. The presence of the installation has shaped the community since it first opened.

"When I came here four years ago, I knew the city and county catered to the military because it's such an important part of our economy," Stevens said. "What I didn't realize was that the military was so good to the city and county. I've been on teams that didn't feel like teams because I was always giving, but in the relationship between the city, county and Air Force here, it feels like a team. They do all they can to support the community through volunteerism and supporting local retailers. Everybody I've interacted with on base has been phenomenal in trying to help us."

In the spirit of teamwork, the community supports, and in turn benefits from, several military activities, such as installation construction and inspections, reserve weekends and air shows.

"Anytime there's something happening on base that requires more than base personnel, or an event is held that attracts new people, it's going to bring money into Goldsboro," said Betsy Rosemann, Goldsboro travel and tourism director. "The relationship between city and base is intertwined. That's what improves our economy."

One weekend every month, hundreds of reservists assigned to the 916th Air Refueling Wing report to their respective units on base, creating another economic boost, 12 times a year.

According to Rosemann, roughly 500 of those personnel stay in Goldsboro hotels and frequent local restaurants. Room and food sales during these weekends alone account for roughly $140,000 each month.

"The Goldsboro local community has impressed me beyond words since I arrived here in 2013," said Col. Craig Shenkenberg, 916th ARW commander. "They are so supportive of our Airmen and continually support the military in a way that is second to none. Members of the 916th ARW travel from near and far to serve our nation and we simply could not do what we need to do without the tremendous support of our civilian partners. I have a deep appreciation and admiration for the people of Goldsboro and Wayne County."

The community also supported the 2015 Wings Over Wayne Air Show and Open House, selling out all 13 Goldsboro area hotels as the event brought an estimated 220,000 people and $4 million to the local economy over the air show weekend.
Stevens said the city recognizes the impact of the installation, and they actively lobby on its behalf.

"As the economy goes up and down, the base has been a stabilizing factor for Goldsboro," Stevens said. "We talk with Air Force leaders all the time to find out what's happening with the installation. Would Goldsboro look the same without Seymour Johnson [AFB]? Absolutely not. The diversity they bring and the diverse businesses they attract, improve our quality of life. We want to make sure that we as a local community have been a good host and we have done everything we can to support our local installation."

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