Study: Military, USCG operations have $4.67M impact on Charleston

CHARLESTON, SC - U.S. military and coast guard personnel in the Charleston region result in a total annual economic impact of $4.67 billion according to the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce's Center for Business Research.

According to the study, there are 22,000 active duty, reserve and civilian personnel working for the Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security in the Charleston region.  Their combined annual payroll is $ 840 million.

The economic impact of their payroll, total compensation and spending in our region totals $4.67 billion annually. In addition, the military facilities reported an additional $18.6 million in new construction and $71.4 million in renovations at area facilities during the most recently completed fiscal year, which ended September 30, 2010.

When combined with the direct jobs at the military facilities, this sector supports more than 36,000 jobs in the Charleston region.

The newly created Joint Base Charleston -- which united the Charleston Air Force Base with the Naval Weapons Station -- is now the region's largest single employer with 20,172 employees.  Their combined payroll has an annual economic impact of $4.36 billion to the region's economy.

The study looked at the economic impact of the spending of payroll dollars by military active duty, civilians and reservists in the community.  It does include contractors working directly for military facilities but does not include any of the defense contractors that perform work for military facilities.

"We know the significance of the defense contractor industry in our community thanks to a recently completed study by SPAWAR Atlantic.  There are more than 80 defense contractor companies in our region employing thousands of engineers and other highly technically skilled employees that are a substantial contributor to the region's economy.  Those private sector contractors were not included in our military impact study," said Mary Graham, Chamber Senior Vice President, Public Policy/Regional Advancement.

"Joint Base Charleston is a true model of transportation, logistics, training, and engineering efficiency," said Peter Wertimer, chairman of the Chamber's Military Policy Council.

Charleston has become the center of gravity for our Department of Defense's Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles program.  Every MRAP has come through Charleston on its way into theater where its job is to protect the lives of our soldiers.

Whether built in Ladson at Force Protection or elsewhere, all of the MRAPs have come to SPAWAR Atlantic where they have been up-fitted with their electronics and communications systems before being either shipped via air from Charleston Air Force Base or via sea through the Army seaport.  Charleston's facilities – from SPAWAR to Charleston Air Force Base to the Army's Surface Deployment Distribution Command play a significant role in support of the warfighter.

The economic impact of these facilities is just as important to our region as the social impact of the men and women who work at these facilities.

"The men and women serving at our military facilities are also our Boy and Girl Scout Leaders, youth baseball coaches and Sunday School teachers.  As such, they are woven into the very fabric of our community and have been for more than a century," said Wertimer.

The Center for Business Research collected employment, payroll and construction spending figures from each of the area's military facilities to perform the analysis.  They then utilized IMPLAN, an economic impact model specific to the three county Charleston region.