METROWEST DAILY NEWS: Report: Military bases add $13.7B to economy
As originally appearing in MetroWest Daily News

By Brian Benson/Daily News staff

Natick Soldier Systems Center and Hanscom Air Force Base collectively added $12.8 billion to the state economy in fiscal 2011, underscoring their importance amid the prospects of federal budget cuts, officials said yesterday.

Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, in announcing preliminary results of a new report from the Donahue Institute at the University of Massachusetts, said Natick and Hanscom play “key roles in the commonwealth’s innovation economy.”

“Each of our bases does important work that saves lives, stops current threats, plans for future threats (and responds to natural disasters),” he said at a State House press conference.

The report found the state’s six bases supported more than 45,000 jobs and added $13.7 billion to the economy in fiscal 2011.

A separate study, released Monday by the Donahue Institute, reported federal defense and homeland security contracts added almost $34 billion to the New England economy last year.

Contract activity involving Hanscom or Natick totaled more than $6 billion, said Martin Romitti, the institute’s director of economic and public policy research.

James Brett, president and CEO of the New England Council, a regional business lobbying group, said he does not expect base closings in the region. But, he said a proposal to cut $1.2 million in federal spending over 10 years, about half of which may come from defense spending, could affect funding.

Murray said each base has its own mission but all are interconnected with each other and businesses.

Although an Army base, Natick Soldier Systems develops equipment used in other branches of the military and works with other bases regularly, public affairs officer John Harlow said.

Murray, who created the Military Asset and Security Strategy Task Force, has toured the state’s bases with the group. Task force members will continue meeting with federal lawmakers and work with base leaders on cost-saving measures and ways the state can invest in the bases, he said.

“I think they’ve done a lot of great work,” said Bonnie Biocchi, president and CEO of the MetroWest Chamber of Commerce. “They are ahead of the curve.”

Biocchi said the chamber is working to build relationships between the bases and businesses in the community.

At Natick, Harlow said work continues as normal.

“Our job … is to find new solutions for the joint war fighters,” Harlow said. “The 1,600 plus workforce, between military and civilians, are committed to that.”

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