Keesler: $1.1 billion impact in ’09

Keesler announced today that its total economic impact for FY ’09 was more than $1.10 billion, proving something that Biloxians have known for years: the base makes a huge impact on the community.

“We’re proud that Keesler continues to have a significant positive impact on the Mississippi Gulf Coast’s economy,” said Brig. Gen. Ian Dickinson, commander of the 81st Training Wing at Keesler. “The partnership between the base and the local community is very strong.”

In addition to employee payroll figures, construction and purchases ($650 million), the total economic impact includes military retiree pay and the value of volunteer services as well as jobs indirectly created on the Gulf Coast.

Over the last year, many construction projects have been completed or are nearing completion, which is reflected in employee payroll and purchases.

“Keesler makes an impact on all facets of our life here in Biloxi,” said Mayor A.J. Holloway. “You see it in our restaurants and stores, in our schools, in our medical field, in our churches, and in countless volunteer efforts throughout the year.”

Added the mayor: “Keesler is the best assignment in the Air Force. I realize that the mayor of Biloxi might be partial, but just look at the thousands of Keesler retirees who have chosen to make Biloxi their home. That says a great deal about the relationship between this base and Biloxi. It’s more than dollars and cents. It’s a true partnership.”

Keesler currently employs 14,629 people, including nearly 7,300 military positions. In addition, the base’s presence created more than 3,700 local and contract jobs.

As one of the Air Force’s major training centers, on any given day more than 3,000 students train at Keesler in more than 460 courses in technical subjects such as medical, personnel, airfield management, weather forecasting, air traffic control and cyber training.

“Keesler’s job is to deliver the nation’s best trained, highly motivated, expeditionary airmen by preparing them to take on their specialties within the Air Force” General Dickinson said. “Last year we graduated over 18,000 airmen, international and sister service personnel to meet our customer’s needs.”

In addition, 41,550 hours were volunteered by Keesler members in fiscal year 2009 to coast community projects and organizations, including the Boys and Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity and the American Red Cross. Each year, Keesler also hosts the Mississippi State Special Olympics Summer Games, accommodating more than 800 athletes and coaches from across the state. Thousands of Keesler volunteers serve the games in every capacity from team partners to timekeepers.

“We understand the importance of building strong community relationships in achieving our mission.” General Dickinson said. “The Mississippi Gulf Coast is a great place to be and the men and women of Keesler Air Force Base are proud to be part of this community.”

By the numbers: To see a Keesler brochure detailing the base’s economic impact, click here.