Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce fighting to land Africa Command

NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce is on the front lines of a battle to land an overseas installation in charge of all military action in Africa for Joint Base Charleston. They say being chosen to be the new headquarters of the United States' Africa Command would mean more jobs, a bump in business, and a future for the base.

For the last year and a half, Mary Graham has been preparing for the battlefield.

Not a battlefield with bullet proof vests and machine guns but one with ball point pens and research.

Along with a small task force, the Senior Vice President of the Chamber of Commerce is working on Charleston's business case to bring a huge military installation called Africa Command across the Atlantic to the Lowcountry.

"This is a big deal for Charleston," said Graham.

Africa Command took shape in 2007, temporarily headquartered in Stuttgart, Germany. It's goal is to oversee all United States military operations in Africa.

When African nations decided not to allow U.S. boots on their soil, the Department of Defense started looking elsewhere for a permanent base.

Graham said that elsewhere should be here.

"Our harbor, our port are very strategic to the Department of Defense," said Graham. "The location on the east coast and access to the continent of Africa. The more and more we looked at it, the more it made sense for Africa Command to be located in Charleston."

Businessman and member of the Chamber's Military Policy Council, Peter Wertimer, a vital part of Graham's task force, is taking their plan to the nation's capital.

"We're about to begin making some visits to Washington to talk about our proposal," said Wertimer.

The move to the Lowcountry would add tremendous value to Joint Base Charleston and the surrounding economy.

Not only would a 4-star Army General be stationed in the Lowcountry but 5,000 more people would be added to the area.

That's something Graham will make a big difference.

"It would be a big economic impact for our community," Graham said. "It would mean local businesses would get more business. we'd get more people here spending more money so everyone would benefit economically."

Graham says 1,500 jobs would make the move stateside if Charleston is chosen along with a deeper sense of security for Joint Base Charleston.

"We're always watchful of base closures and the impact that they have on the military and the community," said Graham. "This would help us to maintain what we have and grow other facilities here as well."

Other cities competing for Africa Command include Norfolk, Virginia and Atlanta, Georgia. The Chamber doesn't think a decision will be made on the landing zone of the installment until after the Presidential election in November.

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