The federal government is expected to make $450 billion in cuts to defense funding over the next decade. On Friday, local military leaders and lawmakers gathered at Le Moyne College to discuss ways to make sure local installations aren't on the chopping block.
Military installations contribute greatly to the economy in Central and Upstate New York. Fort Drum, in Watertown, is credited with providing 30,565 jobs. In that county, military personnel account for $1 of every $3 spent on consumer goods and services.
At the Hancock Air National Guard Base in Syracuse, airmen were deployed to eight different countries last year.
"Right here in Central New York, we represent those neighbors and those close bonds for people who are actually in your neighborhoods that might be part of the guard," says Col. Kevin Bradley, Wing Commander of the 174th Fighter Wing.
At the event at Le Moyne, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) discussed ways to protect New York military installations. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, she says she expects to have to fight to protect installations from funding cuts. She says it's important at a time when every job counts.
"Ask any family," says Gillibrand. "They're trying to make ends meet. They're trying to deal with smaller paychecks, or less hours, or someone in their family who's lost a job, so in a time of slow growth in our economy, what we need do is find out how do we create growth."
Gillibrand says it's important to point out the benefits New York state offers, such as a variety of climates for training, strong manufacturing resources, a highly skilled workforce, and a good geographical position near the Canadian border and Eastern seaboard.
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