9. Arizona & U.S. Military Installations

By Rodney Campbell

The impact of the military bases in Arizona goes well beyond the $15.5 billion and nearly 79,000 associated jobs spread throughout the state.

“They are members of our community,” said retired Maj. Gen. Ted Maxwell, president and CEO of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council and former commander of the Arizona Air National Guard. “They are embedded in the community. Their sons and daughters play athletic events with our kids. They serve on our local school boards and HOAs. They really are citizens of the region and state.”

The latest edition of the Maguire Report, commissioned by the State of Arizona Military Affairs Commission and released last November, reveals the overwhelming economic impact that the military has on the state and our world.

Southern Arizona plays a key role in the report, which is also known as the Military Economic Impact Report. It notes that installations south of the Gila River are responsible for two-thirds of the military’s economic impact in Arizona, adding up to approximately $10 billion.

Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and Fort Huachuca are the two major installations in the Southern Arizona region and make up the bulk of the military-related employment. There also are two Arizona National Guard installations, the 162nd Fighter Wing based at Tucson International Airport, and the Silverbell Army Heliport northwest of Tucson. Two more installations near Yuma add to the overall impact in Southern Arizona.

“If you include Yuma, the large majority of military economic impact occurs in Southern Arizona,” Maxwell said. “It’s really important for Southern Arizona to understand the role of the military.

“We often ask what Maricopa County has that we don’t,” Maxwell said. “What we have is multiple military bases. Southern Arizona’s military economic benefit to the state is truly significant. I was surprised when I first saw the economic impact numbers for the first time nearly 15 years ago.”

Davis-Monthan is home to a combined 9,856 Air Force personnel and civilians, making it the third-largest employer in the region. Fort Huachuca is the heartbeat of its community with a combined 8,784 Army personnel and civilians on the base. It’s the largest employer in Sierra Vista.

Maxwell said the benefits don’t end when men and women leave the service. Many fall in love with Southern Arizona while stationed here and decide to stick around.

“On top of the economic impact, the other thing we have to remember is how many folks it brings to community and how many veterans who have had the opportunity to serve in Arizona elect to retire here,” Maxwell said. “Many of them retire in their early to late 40s. They become a lifetime benefit to our region.”

The report said that 13,271 retirees from Davis-Monthan and 3,188 from Fort Huachuca are living in the region.

The study, which measures the overall economic impacts that the military’s presence has on Arizona, found that the military is responsible for 78,780 jobs, with 42,383 of those direct employees of the installations. The overall $15.5 billion in economic contributions across the state includes all the related jobs and business that come from the bases being here.

“Arizona’s six major military installations and four National Guard operations represent key economic drivers for local communities,” Arizona Commerce Authority President and CEO Sandra Watson said in a news release on Gov. Katie Hobbs’ website. “Not only do these centers provide substantial job opportunities for Arizonans, they complement Arizona’s thriving manufacturing and technology industries, such as aerospace and defense, cybersecurity, and more.”

Aside from the Southern Arizona installations, the study includes Luke Air Force Base, the U.S. Naval Observatory-Flagstaff Station, and two other Arizona National Guard operations.

Total economic output from Arizona’s military operations nearly tripled from Fiscal Year 2000 to Fiscal Year 2022, from $5.6 billion to $15.5 billion. This increase came despite reductions in direct employment due to military mission adjustments since Fiscal Year 2014.

“As this report makes clear, Arizona’s leading role in our national defense benefits the local economy and families throughout our state,” Sen. Mark Kelly said. “The partnership between our exceptional service members, veterans, supportive local communities, and innovative defense industrial base continue to enrich our great state and serves a critical role in protecting our national security.”

Direct employment at military operations across the state increased by nearly 10% from FY 2000 to FY 2005, followed by a net 1% increase until FY 2014. The most recent Maguire Report, though, does show a decrease of almost 7% from FY 2014 to FY 2022. Direct employment numbers have fallen 18% since FY 2005, when the military’s state-wide presence accounted for 96,328 jobs.

This drop makes keeping what the state has even more vital. The Maguire Report lays it all out.

“This supports the need for continued effort and advocacy to support the military missions already present in Arizona and the economic incentives to attract new missions to our great state,” Gov. Hobbs said in the news release.


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