Although that’s 3.1 percent lower than the base’s previous biennial estimate, Kirtland and its 100-plus tenant organizations — led by Sandia National Laboratories and the Department of Energy — remain a huge economic engine for the region. The newest estimate was compiled by the 377th Comptroller Squadron’s financial analysis office.
Froehlich, who took command of the 377th Air Base Wing in May, reviewed the base’s latest economic impact estimate during a Kirtland Partnership Committee breakfast at the Sheryl M. Williams Stapleton African American Performing Arts Center on the Expo New Mexico fairgrounds. The partnership committee is a nonprofit organization formed in 1996 to preserve and expand Kirtland Air Force Base.
More than 20,800 people work on the nearly 52,000-acre base, and about half of them work at Sandia, Froehlich said. The Defense Department payroll was more than $1.14 billion in FY 2014, and Sandia’s was more than $1 billion. In FY 2012, the DoD payroll was more than $1.16 billion, and Sandia’s was $954.6 million.
“From the overall impact from 2012, we’re down by about $0.2 billion,” Froehlich said during a question-and-answer session following his presentation. “The local impact is down by $500 million. That’s the economic impact side of it.”
“On the total employed labor force, we’re actually up by about 744 jobs,” he said. “The majority of those are with Sandia National Labs. My staff and I talked about … the difference from two years ago, and in looking at the data that comes from our Comptroller Squadron … we believe that a lot of the reason we saw a decrease in the economic impact was because of sequestration in 2013.
Sequestration refers to the automatic federal budget cuts that kick in when Congress can’t agree on a debt-reduction strategy. Military officials argue that the indiscriminate sequestration cuts are having a negative impact on military readiness.
“We did have some limitations on facilities and infrastructure improvement…,” Froehlich said. “I can’t speak for Sandia, but they’ve seen some increase in business and they’ve had to hire some employees over there to respond to that.”
According to the base’s 2012 economic impact statement, Sandia had 9,957 employees that year. In 2014, it had 10,846, the report shows.
Kirtland had 3,125 active-duty military personnel in 2014, and about 1,068 National Guardsmen or Reservists, the statement shows.
The base awarded $167.1 million in small-business contracts in 2014, excluding Department of Energy and non-Air Force organizations. That’s about $120 million less than it awarded in 2012, according to the newest estimate.
Gov. Susana Martinez made an appearance at Tuesday’s event, saying, “We also know how important Kirtland Air Force Base is to our economy and the surrounding community. We’re here today to recognize and celebrate that contribution.”