Economic impact of U.S. Army

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, November 7, 2001

in the state is ‘amazing’



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Bob Mills arched his eyebrows as he leaned across his desk. "It’s really amazing," he said.

"It" is U.S. Army’s economic impact in Alabama. And as president of the Troy Rotary Club, Mills learned more about that economic impact on Tuesday, when Richard F. Allen, civilian aide to the secretary of the Army for Alabama, spoke to Rotary members.

Allen’s topic: "Alabama’s Biggest Business: You’d Be Surprised."

A retired brigadier general who now serves as chief deputy attorney general for the State of Alabama, Allen sees his mission as one of education ­ primarily educating the public about the Army’s role in Alabama and promoting that relationship.

"Like you, people are amazed," he explained late Tuesday afternoon via telephone from his Montgomery office. Amazed, quite simply, by the staggering if somewhat under-recognized impact of the Army in this state.

"I think people locally know" about that impact, he said, referring to the community leaders in places like Huntsville and the Wiregrass, where "Team Redstone" and Fort Rucker respectively are located, and in Anniston, where the quietly impressive Anniston Army Depot is located.

And our state’s congressional leaders certainly know about that impact; they’re the ones who lobby and work to grow the allocations and funding for the Army project.

But statewide, on a grassroots level, Allen sees tremendous opportunity for sharing information. And what started with an op-ed article submitted to papers statewide a couple of years ago has led to an around-the-state tour of civic and community clubs, where Allen shares his information

And, as for Allen’s statistics? Well, they really are amazing.

Consider this:

· The U.S. Army provides more than 50,000 military and civilian full-time and part-time jobs in Alabama.

· The U.S. Army’s annual payroll in Alabama exceeds $1.6 billion.

· The U.S. Army’s annual direct spending in the state is $4.33 billion ­ that’s a combination of payroll, purchases and project expenses.

Impressive numbers, yes. But they become even more impressive when examined in context.

For example, Allen cites the Mercedes, Honda and Boeing industrial projects which will provide 5,300 jobs, with a combined annual payroll of $245 million.

The state of Alabama, what Allen calls "the Army’s nearest competitor," employs 36,000 full- and part-time workers (excluding teachers). Its annual payroll is $1.16 billion.

And, using what Allen describes as a "conservative" economic impact multiplier of 2.5, the U.S. Army provides a "staggering sum" of $10.8 billion annual, slightly more than 10 percent of the value of all goods and services provided in the state.

But the Army’s reach isn’t limited to those three major facilities. It’s impact spreads across the state, to places like Pike County, where a Lockheed-Martin assembly facility works on contract for the Redstone Arsenal. According to Allen’s statistics, the arsenal spends about $1.7 billion annually in the state on procurement ­ money spent at places like Lockheed-Martin’s Troy facility.

"That’s where we really have an opportunity," Allen said, referring to the opportunity to develop more in-state suppliers and contractors. "Right now, most of the money (allocated to Redstone for procurement) passes right through Alabama."

It’s a good point, and one that leaders with an eye on economic development and growth embrace.

And so, statistics in hand, Allen will continue to traverse the state and share his surprising message

a message he believes will only strengthen and enhance the U.S. Army’s impact in Alabama.

Stacy Graning is publisher of The Messenger. She can be reached at 670-6308 or via e-mail,


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