Springs not solely reliant on military for economic vitality

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Economic development boosters have long said the military is Colorado Springs' golden goose.

But the city wasn't among the top 18 cities listed in a special report this week in USA Today that reported rising military and pay benefits have pushed many military towns into the ranks of the affluent.

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That's surprising, considering the region is home to five military bases: the Air Force Academy, Schriever Air Force Base, Peterson Air Force Base, Cheyenne Mountain Air Force Station and Fort Carson, which has been expanding troops for some time.

Turning to the experts in these sorts of things, we asked the Greater Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce executive Dave Csintyan why this city didn't rank among the upper echelon. Csintyan consulted with Brian Binn, the chamber's military affairs division president, to come to these conclusions:

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—Our denominator (gross population) as compared to the numbers of military members is much larger than most. For example, Jacksonville, N.C. has Pope Air Force Base and a HUGE Fort Bragg. So, it may be a function of community size.

— Also, compared to many other communities hosting military installations, our standard of living is right up there, so we start with a higher per capita income. In the past ten years I think we enjoyed a 31.6% increase. In 2010 our per capita personal income was $35,717 (95.7% of the U.S. average).

— And…lest we not forget…the military has been catching up in terms of pay to the civilian sector over the long haul. If I am not mistaken, in my 28 years in the service, there was always that gap. Considering the sacrifices and the reason we all volunteered…fair and appropriate compensation is a must.

So, Dave’s take…I think we did not hit the top 15 because of all of our other blessings as a community.

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