How Military Installations Impact the Johnson County Economy
In gauging a local economy’s health, many will first look to its commercial and industrial centers. How full are the restaurants? How busy are the factories? However, most overlook the economic impact of military institutions, such as nearby Camp Atterbury, which operate at the periphery of daily civilian life.
Aspire’s role as the driver of economic development of Johnson County makes military campuses like Camp Atterbury indispensable allies in building, improving, and expanding the local economy.
“Camp Atterbury is certainly an asset in Johnson County and we’re always looking for more opportunities to collaborate,” said Amanda Rubadue, Vice President of Economic Development at Aspire. “From opportunities for companies to showcase their products to the Department of Defense, to training facilities for our first responders, we appreciate Camp Atterbury’s contributions to our community.”
A study conducted by Indiana University in collaboration with the Indiana National Guard has revealed significant positive impacts on the economy and society in south-central Indiana due to the operation of the U.S. Military’s Atterbury-Muscatatuck Complex. The study focuses on the four counties hosting the military bases (Bartholomew, Brown, Jennings, and Johnson), nine surrounding counties, as well as the rest of the state.
The Atterbury-Muscatatuck Complex employs around 2,500 individuals and hosts tens of thousands of military and civilian personnel for training activities. The research found that hotels and restaurants are the primary beneficiaries of the military presence. The study also notes hidden benefits, such as increased community organization volunteering.
Recently, Camp Atterbury in southern Johnson County near Edinburgh has been transitioning from its wartime role as a departure point for troops preparing to head to active war zones, to a peacetime role as a training site and asset to the local economy.
“We just closed a chapter of a book here,” said Camp Atterbury chief of operations, Lt. Col. Eric Honaker in an article from the Indianapolis Star. “As we look out over the next chapter, there’s a lot to be excited about.”
Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center combined have brought $399 million to the surrounding local economies through job creation, spending, and contracts. However, the bases are looking to continue being drivers of economic activity by re-using their facilities and resources that were originally built for mobilizing troops in the Second World War.
The demobilization of troops has worried many local business owners about a resulting loss in jobs at Camp Atterbury, but military installations are adapting to new peacetime missions and seeking growth opportunities.
Turning to public service, Atterbury is offering training opportunities for various local government agencies, such as police, firefighters, and rescue crews, at affordable rates.
Atterbury is investing in infrastructure improvements as well, such as constructing a runway for testing drone aircraft, building new barracks to house thousands of reserve and National Guard soldiers, and establishing a new drop zone for parachute training exercises. The base will also be building a new railroad track to facilitate cost-effective transportation for neighboring states' military personnel and gear.