If Cannon Air Force Bas does close, the Clovis Community can look to Lubbock for guidance. The same commission closed Reese Air Force Base in 1997. Since that time, it's been turned into the only redeveloped base in the country to be debt-free.
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Just eight years ago Reese Technology Center was Reese Air Force Base. When it closed, Lubbock community leaders pumped an estimated $28 million into the base and today it's the fifth largest high tech research park in the nation.
"In reality I think we recovered well because we planned early on and did a good job at making things available at the base," explains Lubbock Chamber of Commerce President Eddie McBride. For more than 50 years, Reese Air Force Base was a training facility for military pilots from across the country. Today, McBride tells us it's the home of cutting edge research and educational technology. "I think that we're actually doing better now than what we were doing when the pilot base was open," he says.
When the base closed 3,500 military and civilian jobs and a payroll of $50 million was eliminated. Today, Reese Technology Center generates an estimated $27 million into our local economy. It's a significant increase from the $6 million brought in by the base.
"Our goal is not to lease real estate, our goal is job creation and economic development," explains Eric Williams, Executive Director. These forces are what he says drives the success of the Reese Center. "We looked at the resources and discovered that really research and higher education was good because we had Texas Tech and South Plains College right here," says Williams. These partnerships have helped make Reese one of the most successful military base closures in the country. "We've created over 621 jobs in the last three years, there's over 4,200 college students out here now," he points out.
A nine-member appointed board owns and runs the center. It's a political subdivision of the state of Texas but doesn't receive state funding and relies on grant money. "The fact that we've got educational benefits, research efforts and new companies that are coming in that are trying to create new jobs," says Williams.
It's a success story he says Clovis could gain wisdom from if Canon Air Force Base is closed. "We'd like to offer a fact that we would be able to help them and learn from some of the things we've done, lessons learned," adds Williams.
Eddie McBride tells NewsChannel 11 he has contacted the Clovis Chamber of Commerce to offer any advice and support. He adds that the base closure could have a significant impact on our medical and retail community. He says up to 30% of the sales tax that's collected in Lubbock is from those shoppers from outside of Lubbock. Greg Bruce with UMC estimates they provide $14 million in services to the Clovis community. He says not all of that money would be lost but it could have an effect eventually.
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