Military and Defense: An Economic Driver in Oklahoma
Oklahoma is home to six military installations – three Air Force bases, two Army installations and one Air National Guard base. They are critical to training our troops, manufacturing their equipment, and defending our nation, but they also are economic forces that support job growth and investment in the state.
Lawton, Oklahoma, home to the Fort Sill Army base, was recently selected as one of 10 “Great American Defense Communities” by the Association of Defense Communities (ADC). With its long history of dedication to the mission of Fort Sill Army Base and its military personnel, Lawton’s placement on the list is no surprise.
ADC launched the Great American Defense Communities program to recognize the special contributions that cities, counties and regions hosting military installations make to improve quality of life for service members, veterans and their families.
“The Great American Defense Communities program will help ADC and the Defense Communities Caucus share positive stories about the exemplary efforts being made in communities to support defense installations and their personnel,” said ADC CEO Tim Ford in an ADC news release.
A report prepared by the Oklahoma Department of Commerce in 2011 assessed the contribution and financial impact of the military in the state. The direct, indirect and induced employment associated with the industry was 133,800 jobs, with average wages 14% higher than the state’s average wage. Impacts on state GDP totaled more than $9.6 billion in 2010, which was more than 7% of the state’s total economy.
Fort Sill has an annual total economic impact of $1.9 billion and is home to a military population of about 16,500 and a civilian workforce of 7,000. It is a designated U.S. Army Fires Center of Excellence, and is home to field and air defense artillery schools, an army training center, a non-commissioned officer academy amongst other functions.
Fort Sill creates employment opportunities across a wide range of sectors, both indirectly and directly. Lawton and the state also benefit from defense contracts with private companies for supplies, construction and various services such as healthcare and information technology. This drives further economic growth in the region.
In addition to Fort Sill, AEP-PSO also serves the McAlester Army Ammunition Plant and Tulsa Air National Guard as well as several smaller military and defense related facilities in Oklahoma. The communities near these facilities offer many assets including workforce, infrastructure, and proximity to defense-related industries.
On behalf of AEP and PSO, I’d like to extend our congratulations to Lawton on this distinguished, well deserved honor.