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HAFB has $3.4 billion impact on local economy, commander says

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — The state's largest single-site employer — Hill Air Force Base — is responsible for more than $3 billion in annual economic impact, along with the continuing development of a growing technology corridor located in northern Utah.

During a meeting of the Utah Legislature's Veterans and Military Affairs Commission Tuesday at the Hill Aerospace Museum, base commander Col. Jennifer Hammerstedt told members that the installation creates about $1.29 billion in jobs with a total of $3.34 billion in total annual economic impact to the state. She said the economic impact on the local community is calculated by identifiable off-base spending from gross expenditures.

Hammerstedt noted that in 2016, the base had 27,365 total personnel, including 5,636 military members, 5,591 military dependents and 16,138 civilians. The installation had a yearly federal payroll of $1.34 billion and annual expenditures of $710 million, she added.

"There continues to be more growth coming into Hill and (those numbers) will continue to increase," she said. Among the long-term projects coming on board will be the replacement of the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile. This month, the Pentagon announced the U.S. Air Force awarded contracts to Boeing Co. and Northrop Grumman Corp. for the new Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent system, which along with other priorities are among several programs underway at the base.

"We also have the transition of the F-35 (fighter jet) ... and we also have a lot of growth in our software sustainment and software development," Hammerstedt said.

She said one issue that has crept up is the need for more qualified workers with the skills necessary for the projects. She said efforts are being made to ensure those personnel needs are met.

"We're working with a lot of the vocational schools to get more of our technician-type skills," she explained. "Our engineering branch also works a lot with the local universities to recruit and have interns come in to see if we can spark some interest in our young Americans coming to serve and give back."

Hammerstedt said the base has ample capacity to bring on more civilian personnel to bolster the needed workforce in the months and years to come.

Currently, the base has more than 16,000 civilians working on various projects through defense contractors, explained David Williamsen, program manager for the Enhanced Use Lease Management Office at Hill Air Force Base. Many of those workers will be located at Falcon Hill National Aerospace Research Park located just outside of the installation's west gate.

Developed by Utah-based Woodbury Corp., the 550-acre site is operated in partnership with the base. The development provides facilities for contractors that fulfill the needs of military programs conducted at the base, he said.

"It's there to build the synergy that the base needs, and also provide office space in this particular area of northern Utah," Williamsen said. "A lot of people travel down to (Salt Lake and Utah counties) for jobs. If (employers) could bring those jobs to the north, (employees) would probably be a little bit happier and there would be less congestion on the freeways."

"This is a great opportunity from the economic business standpoint to provide opportunities for companies to have first-class accommodations and (the employees) will be happier because they won't have to commute so far," he added. "It's a long-term (goal) of the developer and their planning strategy (for building the research park)."