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 Fall 2015


Ten more places in the South to hire vets

Not only does our American military keep us safe during their tenure in our armed forces, they keep our economy marching forward after they retire from service. Here are 10 cities in the South where military families have a powerful impact on the community.

Augusta, Georgia
“When it comes to workforce, companies come to Augusta.” This slogan has been the main message for Augusta’s outstanding workforce for many years, thanks to the outstanding quality of veterans in the area. Augusta’s Fort Gordon trains all military personnel in information technology, computers, telecommunications and logistics, and is the Cyber Center of Excellence for the U.S. Army.

With nearly 150 of these highly skilled military personnel completing their military service and seeking employment in Augusta every month, Augusta has a nearly endless supply of quality veterans with specific skills that can adapt to any business model. . .manufacturing, telecommunications, office, data and service. Augusta companies find trained, dependable and cooperative workers, thanks to the high number and the educational level of veterans in the Augusta area.

Enterprise-Ozark, Alabama
Enterprise and Ozark share a strong bond in the form of a 65,000-acre military installation that pumps $1 billion annually into the local economy. Fort Rucker and the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence link the two counties by land. More than 500 aircraft are launched daily into the sky above the two. A skilled workforce, made up largely of military veterans, links the communities to 7,000 jobs created by defense contractors such as Army Fleet Support, CSC, Sikorsky, Bell Helicopter, Boeing and others. Department of Defense employees fill another 7,000 jobs. Many of the several hundred personnel who retire or leave the military each year choose to stay in the Enterprise-Ozark area because of the expanding aviation-related industry. . .Arista opened its doors last year. A diverse economic base -- manufacturers like Enterprise’s HSAA Automotive, growing healthcare facilities and retail businesses -- offer even more employment opportunities for veterans.

Panama City, Florida
U.S. military installations surround the region with the largest military base footprint in the U.S., and provide a stabilizing economic influence on the area. Naval Support Activity Panama City, U.S. Coast Guard Station Panama City and Tyndall Air Force Base in Bay County, along with nearby Eglin Air Force Base (the largest base in the U.S. Air Force) and other naval and aviation-related installations are in close proximity, obviously attracting defense contractors and aviation and aerospace related companies and suppliers. Nearly every nationally recognized defense contractor, approximately 60 companies, has a presence in Bay County.

Naval Support Activity Panama City employs approximately 2,800 civilian and military personnel. Its economic impact on Bay County is more than $400 million annually.

Approximately 7,300 military, civilian and contract personnel are employed at Tyndall making it the largest employer in Bay County. The base provides support facilities for more than 9,000 military retirees and had a local economic impact that exceeded $617 million in 2012.

With Panama City’s sunny climate and opportunities in the defense industry, it stands to reason that retiring military would want to continue to call it home.

Pensacola, Florida
On average, 2,000 military personnel transition out of service each year in Pensacola. Photo courtesy of Florida’s Great NorthwestCompanies looking to expand their operations will find Pensacola emerging as one of the most desirable beachside communities to locate or expand a business. Known as the “Cradle of Naval Aviation” and home of the Navy’s flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels, the community has two active military bases: Naval Air Station Pensacola and Naval Air Station Whiting Field. These installations account for more than 80,000 total jobs, including active-duty military, and a $7.8 billion economic impact to the region.

On average, 2,000 military personnel transition out of service each year in Pensacola, eager to enter the civilian workforce with skillsets in the following occupations: advanced manufacturing, information technology, cyber security, aviation/aerospace, and maritime mass rescue operations.

Northwest Florida has the second highest concentration of military retirees in the nation. With a skilled workforce, favorable climate and the continuous growth of industries, the community continues to expand.

Richmond, Kentucky
Richmond stands out as a great place to hire vets in large part due to Eastern Kentucky University (EKU), which is located there and continues to earn national honors for its commitment to military veterans and their dependents.

The EKU Aviation program is already recognized nationally for its one-of-a-kind aviation program and in response to a worldwide demand of 498,000 pilots over the next 20 years, EKU is looking to expand its program offerings.

For the sixth consecutive year, EKU has been named a Military-Friendly® School by Victory Media, ranking in the top 15 percent. The school also has been recognized by Military Times EDGE magazine twice in the last four years as “Best for Vets,” the No. 1 college or university in the country for its initiatives to help veterans further their education. U.S. News gave first place to EKU among the online graduate education programs for vets, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs named EKU a VetSuccess University.

EKU’s Operation Veteran Success includes no admission fees for undergraduate veterans, in-state tuition for all veterans nationwide, maximum credit hours for military experience, and a Veteran Studies minor, believed to be the nation’s first.

San Antonio, Texas
From the establishment of the Presidio de Bexar in 1718, which served as the seat of government and military headquarters for Colonial Texas, to the establishment of Joint Base San Antonio in 2010, San Antonio has enjoyed a deep and long-standing history with the U.S. military.

According to a study completed in 2011, the DoD in San Antonio had a $27.7 billion impact on the area, supported the employment of 189,148 people in the community and awarded $4 billion in local contracts. The DoD’s largest hospital there provides health care to more than 250,000 veterans and their dependents.

Today, San Antonio, the seventh largest city in the U.S., is home to one of the largest populations of military retirees in the country. San Antonio has, in fact, become a military retirement village and home to a number of military specific retirement communities. There are 47,924 military retirees in San Antonio, many of which continue working in “second careers.”

Savannah, Georgia
Ft. Stewart, located just outside of the Savannah MSA, and Hunter Army Airfield generate sufficient economic activity to warrant inclusion of Liberty and Long counties in the larger Savannah CMSA. Ft. Stewart and Hunter AAF have an annual financial impact of $4.9 billion. Fort Stewart is the largest military installation east of the Mississippi River and covers nearly 285,000 acres.

Ft. Stewart and Hunter AAF together are one of Coastal Georgia’s largest employers. The ratio of military to civilian employees is approximately five to one, with 23,149 officers and enlisted military and 4,077 civilians employed at both installations. Ft. Stewart accounts for nearly three-fourths of the military employment in the area.

Shreveport, Louisiana
Shreveport-Bossier City’s Barksdale Air Force Base is the second largest military facility in Louisiana. Emerging from the cotton fields of Northwestern Louisiana in the early 1930s, Barksdale has grown into a major source of revenue and employment for the region There are 6,929 military and 1,105 civilian employees for a total of 8,034 workers at the base. The climate, location and military environment make this area a popular place for military retirees and their families to call home.

Sumter, South Carolina
A model F-16 is proudly displayed on Broad Street in Sumter, S.C.When Caterpillar came to Sumter, the company stated a primary reason for choosing the centrally located South Carolina community was its proximity to military bases -- Shaw Air Force Base, Fort Jackson (U.S. Army) and McEntire Joint National Guard base -- and the people associated with them.

“That’s why we consider our military connections among our best assets,” said Jay Schwedler, President and CEO of Sumter Economic Development. “Workers with military backgrounds tend to have more training, a stronger work ethic and habits, and the kind of work discipline manufacturers want.”

In all, there are more than 30,000 active duty military personnel within a half hour of Sumter, thousands of retirees, and tens of thousands of workers with some military training. “There are a lot of reasons Sumter County is a great location for manufacturers. But when asked ‘why Sumter,’ our access to veterans and other military folks is always at the top of the list,” Schwedler said.

Virginia Beach, Virginia
The Virginia Beach MSA is home to the largest active-duty military population in the U.S., as well as 10 major military installations representing all branches of the U.S. Armed Forces. In addition, the only permanent NATO Headquarters outside of Europe is located in the MSA. Along with a huge Navy footprint, the region hosts major Air Force, Army, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard facilities. As a result, the area is extremely "military friendly" in all respects.

Each year approximately 12,000 active-duty personnel exit the military in the region, with many preferring to stay in the area and seek private sector employment. The education and training level of the exiting military personnel bring diverse and disciplined production, technical, managerial, computer and electronic skills to the labor force.

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