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Delays in BRAC funding no problem for Redstone

By Eric Fleischauer 340-2435

Congressional wrangling may delay appropriations for BRAC, but any such delays will have minimal impact on Redstone Arsenal.

That's the assessment of Joe Ritch, chairman of the Tennessee Valley BRAC Committee, who spoke Thursday to the board of the Decatur-Morgan County Chamber of Commerce.

Ritch said the main population influx from the Base Realignment and Closure process will not come until 2010.

While other bases could suffer from funding delays, the construction timetable at Redstone means the delays are less significant.

He said 4,700 jobs are moving to Redstone, with an estimated 5,000 defense contracting jobs coming to the Huntsville area.

The cooperation among communities potentially benefiting from the Redstone expansion has caught the attention of the U.S. Army, according to chamber President John Seymour.

He and other Tennessee Valley BRAC Committee members went to Fayetteville, N.C., another area benefiting from BRAC, at the Army's request.

The purpose of the visit was to assist the communities in forming a cooperative, rather than adversarial, recruiting effort.

Since then, communities in Maryland that will benefit from BRAC have asked to meet with Seymour and others for the same purpose.

"We learned a lot in 1991," Seymour said, referring to a previous BRAC round that benefited Redstone. "The communities were fighting with each other then, and it turned people off the entire region. Now we are taking a cooperative approach. If people ask us about something we don't have in this community, we point them to a community that has it."

Chamber officials are attending a third exposition in Arlington, Va., next month to recruit personnel who have the option to move to Redstone.

Several area employers will attend the event to recruit spouses of those who will be working at Redstone.

Also at Wednesday's meeting, the chamber honored the following retiring board members: Vanessa Edmonds, Gail Holbert, Lynn Layton, David Matthews, Arthur Orr, John Ross and Philip Shelton.

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