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Greater Kansas City’s unheralded $2.3 billion asset

August 15, 2014

Leavenworth Photo Cropped

By Jeff Pinkerton

Ask economic development planners in any metropolitan area what they would think about a corporation that generates $2.3 billion a year in economic activity, employs more than 8,000 people, generates 55,000 hotel room nights AND purchases more than 6,000 airline tickets a year, and you would have them salivating over such a huge economic asset.
We already have such an asset right here in the Kansas City Metro, but it’s not a corporation. Can you guess what it is?
We’re talking about Fort Leavenworth and its affiliated operations. We recently heard from The 27 Committee, a nonprofit group of business and government leaders from both sides of the state line that is spreading the word about the economic impact of Fort Leavenworth. This information is especially timely as the Army considers potential force reduction plans that might affect Fort Leavenworth and the entire Kansas City region.
According to Dick Gibson, the executive director of The 27 Committee, the total annual economic impact of the Fort Leavenworth complex breaks down this way for fiscal year 2013:
Ft Leavenworth Table

Clearly, the Fort benefits the region by providing jobs, bringing in thousands of visitors and giving the region a point of pride as home to the “Intellectual Center of the U.S. Army.” The U.S. Army National Guard’s Mission Training Complex, located on Fort Leavenworth, hosted two Warfighter Exercises that created over 7,000 room nights in a 2 month period. Over 125 international officers from over 85 countries come annually to Fort Leavenworth to attend the Command and General Staff College with their U.S. counterparts.
But the Fort provides another key economic benefit that is often overlooked. It gives private local businesses the opportunity to supply a wide range of goods and services. You might expect that some private businesses gain by providing military consulting services, but the impact goes well beyond that. A wide range of small businesses — most with no military connection — benefit from doing business with Fort Leavenworth, its military and civilian personnel, and their families.
Due to budget cuts under the current congressionally mandated sequestration legislation, the U.S. Army is working on plans to reduce its military and civilian personnel from a war-time high of 570,000 to 420,000. As a part of this plan, Fort Leavenworth could see a cut of up to 2,500 military and civilian jobs. Due to the multiplier effect, a reduction of this level would result in in a total metro loss of nearly 7,500 total jobs with combined annual earnings of nearly $420 million.
You can learn more about the proposed cuts to Fort Leavenworth here.
The Army is accepting public comments on the plan through August 25. Comments can be submitted to:

U.S. Army Environmental Command
ATTN: SPEA Public Comments
2450 Connell Road (Bldg. 2264)
Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, TX 78234-7664

Or by email:

Fort Leavenworth provides direct employment to thousands. It brings in millions of dollars of economic activity annually and it can be a key client for private businesses in the area. It is a huge asset to the region — one we too often take for granted and one we can’t afford to lose.

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