Some Fort Bragg business leaders aren't worried about troop reduction plan
Posted February 25, 2014
Fort Bragg, N.C. — Monday's announcement of plans to reduce the U.S. government's active-duty military has some near Fort Bragg believing the plan wouldn't have a big impact on the local economy and that it could actually be a benefit.
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel laid out a plan to cut the number of soldiers in the U.S. Army from the approximately 522,000 to between 440,000 and 450,000 by 2015, shrinking the military branch to its smallest size since before World War II.
Fort Bragg, which has about 55,000 military employees, has more than an $11 billion economic impact on the 11 counties surrounding the post near Fayetteville.
Some local business leaders, such as Dan Dederick, a Vietnam veteran who runs a Jeep dealership, doesn't think the cuts will hurt the area too much.
"It's going to reduce the size of the fighting force," he said. "But Camp Lejeune and Fort Bragg – especially, being a premier fighting force and ready to go in a moment's notice – I'm sure, they will reduce it by a small amount, but I don't expect it to be great."
Half of Dederick's business, he says is from soldiers.
"Everyone in retail – you know, clothing sales, malls, cars – will be affected to some extent," he said. "But if it's just a brigade or a group that's moving or being disbanded, I don't think it'll have a huge effect."
Some think the proposed cuts could help Fort Bragg, which could pick up new troops as other Army posts across the country close.
Neil Grant agrees.
His company, Grant-Murray Real Estate LLC, has invested millions in the developing Military Business Park next to the installation.
Grant says there are military contractors all over town, but that now, they are a little more cautious before deciding on investing in building a large office complex.
"Instead of building a 30,000-square-foot building, right now, I think everybody is just sort of feeling their way around," he said. "But I don't see anything stopping in this area at all. In fact, I'm very optimistic."