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Kirtland pumps $4.6B into local economy

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Kirtland Air Force Base contributed almost $4.6 billion to the local economy during the 2018 fiscal year, according to statistics released Friday.

That represents a 12.6% increase over 2016, installation commander Col. David Miller announced at the Kirtland Partnership Committee’s annual breakfast.

Two CV-22 Osprey aircraft, assigned to the 71st Special Operations Squadron, part of the 58th Special Operations Wing, take off on a night mission at Kirtland Air Force Base. (Source: Kirtland Air Force Base)

The base released the results of its economic impact study, which reported a $7.4 billion impact overall.

“It’s suffice to say that our economic impact in the state of New Mexico, especially in Albuquerque is huge,” Miller said. “We also account for 10% of the local economy and 13% of all of the jobs in the area. We are a huge piece of this community and things going on inside the state.”

Local job creation increased over 19% compared with statistics released in 2016, the colonel said.

Miller said the increase in job creation was “due to hiring on base, construction on base as well as people Downtown (the Air Force Research Laboratory’s office at the Lobo Rainforest is among the Air Force’s presence off base), with the promise of more jobs to come.”

The base has a combined military and civilian workforce of almost 23,000. That number includes the workforce of mission partners such as Sandia National Laboratories, which employs more than 12,700.

“Almost every year, we’re showing growth,” Miller said. “In this year alone, one of our mission partners is showing a growth of hiring about 1,800 people. Another organization’s got projects going right now and is going from about 120 to 246. We have another small organization on base with an exciting mission that’s going to grow from 80 people to 200. The aggregate growth across this installation is significant. Everything is moving in the right direction. We’re investing in the long haul.”

The Air Force base reports an annual payroll of almost $2.73 billion. That represents a 6% increase over 2016. He said military personnel represented only a small percentage of that. Represented in that total were Department of Energy workers, employees from Sandia National Laboratories, industry Downtown “and people who look a lot more like you (representatives of the mission partners at the breakfast) and your employees.”

Miller said the base is seeing an increase in growth among small business contracts and contracts with minority-owned businesses, areas where there has been a focus in the last couple of years.

The base reported $115 million in small business contracts in 2018, and $89 million in minority-owned business contracts. It had contracts of $47 million with women-owned businesses.

The base reports more than $957 million in local expenditures. Miller said changes have been put in place to help the base better track where money is going locally that weren’t in place in 2016, but said there has been growth.

Miller said the base seeks to increase outreach and collaboration with the community.

“There are a lot of things as far as technology going on in the area,” he said. “I know that we have partnerships, and the labs have partnerships with the universities. I think we need to do more of that … Part of it is letting us know what is available Downtown.”

He mentioned the collaboration with Sandia and Emera Technologies to set up a power microgrid on base as an example of what could be done, as well as working with the University of New Mexico on improvements to the dormitories that house airmen stationed at the base.

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