The Christian County Chamber of Commerce has conducted a study to project the effects of a proposed reduction of 16,000 troops by the U.S. Army and compare it to the Army’s Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment, and the Chamber says the economic impact would be devastating.
The Chamber partnered with local organizations in the region including the City of Hopkinsville, Pennyrile Area Development District, Christian County Public Schools, Western Kentucky Regional Chamber Alliance, Hopkinsville Community College and the Christian, Todd and Trigg County Association of Realtors.
Jason Vincent with the Pennyrile Area Development Disctrict says the would substantially impact both public and private entities across the entire Pennyrile district.
“With more than 26% of the region's personal income derived from military related compensation, many community and governmental related services would be impacted due to less sales and tax revenue," Vincent said.
The Chamber says the SPEA failed to highlight any specific findings about the financial impact on education or how local higher education institutions have supported soldiers and their families. Hopkinsville Community College President Dr. Jay Allen says the school implements specific programming for soldier students and their families.
“With fully 42% of our student body affiliated with Fort Campbell, we see our relationship with the Army as synergistic,” Allen said. “As such, a reduction of force to half of the current population would be catastrophic to every sector of our economy and likely cause my institution’s ability to fully meet the community’s needs to be reduced beyond acceptable levels.”
Christian County Public schools stand to lose approximately $5.3 million. The system receives several grants because of military students in the school system. There is a 3 year grant in place for $810,000 and a $4.5 million consortium grant shared with Clarksville and Montgomery County Schools. The eligibility of these grants is based on the percentage of military students in the schools.
Christian County Public Schools Superintendent Mary Ann Gemmill brings attention to the loss of intangibles in the community.
“The soldiers of Fort Campbell and their families have become a part of our family. Their children have become our children. Sustainability should not be based on economic viability alone, but it should include the human and social assets of a community.”
The Chamber report has been submitted to the Army along with over 7,000 letters from Tennessee and Kentucky pleading for Fort Campbell to grow instead of downsize. A listening session is scheduled now and March with Army officials.