A two-state coalition of local governments and chambers of commerce is planning to lobby against looming personnel cuts at Fort Campbell.
The sprawling military base on the Kentucky-Tennessee state line is facing a potential reduction of half its 32,000 payroll as part of sequestration in the Department of Defense’s budget. The Fort Campbell cuts were one of the possible scenarios outlined in a June 2014 Army report.
The reduction would also have a strong negative economic impact on surrounding communities.
In January, Hopkinsville's city council sent a letter urging Congress to block the possible reduction at the base.
The joint partnership includes the governments of Montgomery and Christian County, Clarksville and Hopkinsville city governments, the Hopkinsville Chamber of Commerce and the privately-funded Aspire Clarksville Foundation. The group has hired Cassidy & Associates to maximize Fort Campbell's exposure in Washington ahead of the DoD's decision.
Clarksville Economic Development Council Executive Director Cal Wray says the firm has many years of experience in lobbying military interests to Congress
“They have relationships with a lot of the players that will be in the decision-making process," said Wray. "While we have great relationships with our delegation, we’re here. We still have to get on a plane, we still have to go, we still have to set up meetings. The biggest piece is that they have the expertise with the military, they’re on the ground, and they’re constantly meeting with members of Congress and hearing what’s happening on a daily basis."
The firm is on a $12,500 per month, six-month contract. Wray says the goal is to promote Fort Campbell’s strengths including being home to one of the largest training camps and military airfields.
“If you really look at the strengths of Fort Campbell, Fort Campbell should actually probably gain forces instead of lose forces," said Wray. "But now, you still have to cut 40,000 soldiers potentially out of the military so that’s probably not the best result that’s going to happen. All we know is that a decision is expected in June. Obviously our goal would be minimize impacts as much as possible.”
The DoD held a listening session at the base in January and is expected to make a decision on the base’s future this summer.