Military bases support 150,000 jobs; pump billions into Illinois’ economy
SPRINGFIELD – Nov. 20, 2014. The military and defense industry supports 150,000 jobs and $13.3 billion in economic activity in Illinois, according to a new statewide economic impact study released today by the Lt. Governor Sheila Simon’s Office and the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation.
The figures include employment and spending related to four categories: active military installations, Department of Defense contracts, National Guard facilities and payments to military-linked retirees and school districts.
The largest impact stems from the installations at Scott Air Force Base near Belleville, the Rock Island Arsenal in the Quad Cities, and the Naval Station Great Lakes. Those bases alone support 85,000 jobs, and contribute a total of $9.1 billion the state’s economy, the study shows. The study estimates the military and defense industry supports about 2 percent of the state’s gross domestic product.
Lt. Governor Sheila Simon was joined by Illinois Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Todd Maisch to announce the study’s findings. She said the new figures should help Illinois fight to retain and enhance military bases if Congress proceeds with sequestration or Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) in the next two years.
“We know that military installations are huge economic engines in their respective communities, but this study shows us exactly how crucial they are to our state’s economy as a whole,” said Simon. “I encourage all stakeholders to use this data as a foundation for efforts to preserve, promote and enhance our military assets going forward. Tens of thousands of jobs, billions in spending and our nation’s security are at stake.”
The study was commissioned by the Illinois Chamber of Commerce Foundation, in conjunction with the state’s Interagency Military Base Support and Economic Development Committee (IMBSEDC), which Simon chairs. The impact study falls under the committee’s statutory responsibilities regarding military base retention.
The analysis was conducted by the Center for Government Studies at Northern Illinois University. Researchers used a dynamic modeling tool to calculate the direct and indirect economic activity related to the military and defense industry and reported the figures by region, Congressional district and the state.
Researchers also conducted a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats or SWOT analysis that looked at quality of life factors, including a new law initiated by Simon that will ease military students’ transitions into and out of Illinois’ schools. The law also more closely aligns Illinois with similar laws in other states.
“This study is a first step toward educating Illinoisans about the importance of our military assets,” Simon said. “We want all stakeholders to understand what we have, what we have to lose and what there is to gain.”
The report outlines several areas that need further exploration and analysis, and recommends the following steps for the IMBSEDC going forward:
- Closely monitor military-related developments at the federal, regional, state and local levels for their potential economic impact to the state
- Look at strategic outreach, advocacy, and communications underway by other states that are promoting, preserving and enhancing their military and defense industry assets
- Encourage military installations and communities to identify and implement shared service partnerships with the public and private sectors
- Stress the importance of proactively engaging well in advance of another BRAC round
As chair of the IMBSEDC, Simon helped coordinate the state’s activities and communications relating to current and former military bases in Illinois. The study is the final action taken during her service as chair.
To read the study in its entirety, please visit the Lt. Governor’s website, or click here.