Pricey Harrison

Friday, July 01, 2005

Potential Assistance For North Carolina Military Bases

North Carolina communities that suffer job losses or other economic problems because of military cutbacks will share in a $1 million federal grant announced Wednesday, which comes months before the Pentagon's realignment plans are finalized. The grant from the Labor Department is intended to help workers, businesses and communities that take a hit under plans to close or realign military facilities. If the money is not needed because of the military reorganization, the state Commerce Department can spend it to help workers who lose their jobs for other reasons.

A commission that heard public comment Tuesday in Charlotte is considering the Defense Department's realignment proposals, which were announced May 13. The panel will make recommendations in September to President Bush, who will decide with Congress whether to accept the plans or demand a new report. Even though the final decision isn't due until autumn, states had a June 10 deadline to apply for the grants, Commerce Department spokeswoman Alice Garland said.

The money must be used by the end of the year. In all, the state would lose 568 military positions and gain 307 civilian jobs if the initial Defense Department proposals were implemented as written. But some individual communities could see significant job losses. Changes proposed for the Marine Corps Air Station at Cherry Point would add 48 military positions but cut 656 civilian jobs. One civilian job and 182 military positions would disappear due to changes proposed for Camp Lejeune and the Marine Corps Air Station at New River. The loss of the Army Research Office in Durham would cost 113 civilian jobs. In all, 35 states, the District of Columbia and Guam shared in more than $28 million in grants, the Labor Department said Wednesday. The largest amounts, $1.5 million each, went to Illinois and Indiana. North Carolina was one of 15 states to win a $1 million grant.


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