by Pam Zubeck
Though the rest of the economy is in the dumper, Peterson Air Force Base pumps $1.23 billion into the local economy through payroll and contracts, according to an economic impact analysis conducted by the 21st Space Wing, which runs the base.
The study also included Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station and the Plaza of the Rockies building, 121 S. Tejon St., where one of the base’s 53 mission partners, the Joint Personal Property Shipping Office, is located, a Peterson spokeswoman says.
Cheyenne Mountain's underground bunker used to house the North America Aerospace Defense Command, the joint command with Canada, until it moved to a Peterson above-ground building in May 2008. The mountain is still in use, but the number of personnel is greatly diminished, and some functions moved elsewhere.
Anyway, the 14-page report, which covered the fiscal year ending Sept. 30, 2009, boasts that 5,484 active duty, Reserve and Guard military personnel and 5,743 civilians are stationed at Peterson and its satellites. This translates to a total military payroll of $315 million and civilian payroll of $185 million annually.
In addition, the base hires lots of contractors for various construction contracts that cost $33 million last year. Another $430 million was paid out for base services provided by local companies, and $53 million went to the commissary, base exchange, health, education through tuition reimbursement and other equipment, materials and supplies. The base also paid $2.2 million in aid to local school districts.
A 21st Space Wing press release said the base's many space-related missions, including Air Force Space Command, attract space industries. The Colorado Springs Economic Development Corporation estimates that in the next five years, the space industry will have a $4.5 billion impact on the Colorado Springs economy, the news release said.
Reached by phone, Steve Brady, 21st Space Wing public affairs officer, says although the economic impact analysis is no longer mandated by the Pentagon, Peterson compiles a report annually at the request of the local business community.
"The EIS is provided to local and regional groups, as well as elected officials, including chambers of commerce and city council members, for use in their products, as well as to communicate what, as a neighbor, Peterson AFB offers to the local community," Tech Sgt. Amanda Callahan says in an email further explaining the study.