Fort Polk ‘economic driver’ for state

Military-related spending in Louisiana had an impact of $9.64 billion in the state’s economy for the fiscal year of 2020, according to the findings of a recent economic study commissioned by the state.

The economic activity associated with that spending has resulted in more than 77,000 jobs and pays $348.7 million in state and local taxes, the study found, reflecting a 25 percent increase over figures detailed in a 2016 study.

As one of the nation’s largest military installations with its Joint Readiness Training Center, the study found that Fort Polk operations alone contributed nearly 15,000 jobs and $770 million in payroll to the economy. Estimated total spending at Fort Polk was $1.36 billion over the last fiscal year.

The findings of the study were announced Tuesday at a community briefing held in Leesville and hosted by Fort Polk Progress.

FPP chairman and Leesville Mayor Rick Allen said the study findings support the efforts made by the organization that seeks to highlight the Vernon Parish military installation and improve the quality of life for service members and their families stationed at Fort Polk.

“This study showcases to our governor and state leaders how important Fort Polk is to the state’s economy, and it provides a legitimate reason to support projects that benefit Fort Polk,” Allen said.

The report, prepared by Business Development Advisors, evaluated expenditures at all Louisiana military facilities, Department of Defense and Coast Guard contracts performed in Louisiana, and pay to military retirees in the state.

In terms of payroll employment, the study shows the military accounts for 3.75 percent of Louisiana jobs, and estimates that one in 26 jobs in the state is military-related.

Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson said the study shows that Louisiana military installations are “significant economic drivers” for the state.

“Their affiliated advocacy groups also play a vital role, working on behalf of military facilities as well as military personnel and their dependents. Louisiana’s contribution to protecting our nation’s freedom secures important economic benefits for the Louisiana economy. LED is proud to play an important role in supporting our defense installations and our service men and women,” Pierson said.

The study broke down the economic contributions at each of the military locations in the state, and showed that Barksdale Air Force base in Bossier City contributed nearly 9,000 jobs and more than $570 million in payroll to the economy, and that the Louisiana National Guard, with headquarters in New Orleans and facilities across the state, contributes more than $536 million in annual spending.

“From the battle of New Orleans to LSU’s founding as a military school to the modern-day contributions of Fort Polk, Barksdale Air Force Base and other stalwart facilities, the Armed Forces have loomed large throughout Louisiana’s history,” Gov. John Bel Edwards said.

“That influence extends today to our economy, in a big way. Every region of Louisiana benefits economically from the payroll, spending, contracted work and other activity arising from the military’s presence in our state. We extend our thanks to the servicemen and servicewomen on active duty, our skilled workforce involved in defense contract activity and the military retires and veterans of our state, for the contributions they have made and will continue to make,” Edwards said.

Total military contract spending in Louisiana for 2020 was $2.48 billion, according to the study, representing a 132 percent from military contract spending in 2013.

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