New Study Finds Fort Bliss Contributes $6 Billion to El Paso Economy
Officials in west Texas will rally in Washington this week in an attempt to get both the Pentagon and members of Congress to save Fort Bliss from incurring pending federal budget cuts that, if passed, could ultimately threaten the stability of the local economy.
A recent study by the University of Texas-El Paso’s Institute for Policy and Economic Development found that there is nearly $6 billion of economic impact being generated within the community because of Fort Bliss and its neighboring medical facility. Incidentally, the base has led to the creation of over 62,000 jobs and over $4 billion in wages.
"It's not chump change," said Rick Glancey, the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce’s military forces division chairman, who plans to join members of Congress from Texas, not to mentioned some “two-and-three-star rank generals” at the Pentagon in hopes of keeping the scheduled budget cuts from happening.
El Paso Mayor John Cook says the city cannot afford to take another hit even remotely close to what happened, in the mid-nineties, when a cavalry unit relocated from Fort Bliss to Fort Collins, Colorado – leading to nearly 7,000 people leaving the city within a few weeks. "It had a ripple effect, small businesses closed, gangs moved into empty houses," he said.
Yet, most of those lobbying in the trenches are optimistic about the outcome. "When you face a trillion dollar cuts in ten years, everybody's going to take a hit,” said Tom Thomas, civilian aide to the Secretary of the Army for West Texas. “But I think we'll come out as good or better as any installation in the country.”