Local News

Businesses Feeling Economic Impact As Fort Bragg Soldiers Head Overseas

Posted June 11, 2002 4:34 a.m. EDT

— As Fort Bragg gears up for a deployment in Operation Enduring Freedom, nearby businesses brace for the worst. Soldiers have not even deployed yet, but some businesses are already feeling an impact.

Deloras Robertson has 50 children enrolled in her day-care center, ABC Child Care. Soon, she expects to see half that number when 3,000 soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division head overseas.

"We have a few kids that are gone and a couple of parents said they will be deploying," she said.

Robertson's day-care center is 1 mile from Fort Bragg, and 80 percent of the children come from military families.

"When things come up, the troops have to leave. The kids are here. If both parents are in, the kids have to go to the relatives," she said.

Robertson's business is one of many that will feel the pinch. Officials believe pawn shops, surplus stores and retailers can expect sales to drop.

Although Fort Bragg's deployment will be the largest since Operation Desert Storm, the Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce says local businesses will feel little if any impact.

"It won't be as big, but remember every dollar that is gone is going to have $3 less in our economy," said professor Sid Gautam from Methodist College, who analyzed the economic impact of Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base.

Gautam said businesses already struggling should worry the most. A deployment added to a sluggish economy could force them out of business.

The Fayetteville Chamber of Commerce says the combined populations of Pope Air Force Base and Fort Bragg amount to the eighth largest city in the state.