Ft. Polk reduction would damage local economy - KALB-TV News Channel 5 & CBS 2

Ft. Polk reduction would damage local economy

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 LEESVILLE, La. (KALB News Channel 5) -- Ft. Polk Progress says a reduction in troops at the post could mean disaster for business all around the state. Many people at Wednesday's meeting were business leaders who could be directly impacted.

Rupert White has made a living out of creating businesses in Leesville, such as car washes and storage centers, that are targeted to the troops at Ft. Polk. But, he says if the Army cuts the number of troops by 6,500, he and his employees could be out of work.

"On a scale of 1-10, at least a 7 for all things. A 10 for some," said White. "At least two of my businesses would cease ti exist if it wasn't for Ft. Polk. It would have a drastic financial impact on them."

But, that impact wouldn't stop there. The Central Louisiana Chamber of Commerce says the entire local economy would be effected. 

"It would be devastating to the economy of Leesville, but also to Central Louisiana and to the state," said Deborah Randolph, president of the chamber. "Ft. Polk is the largest employer. But, certainly, the closer the community is, that's where the ripple starts. But, it would impact our areas, as well as, where the chamber serves."

England Airpark would take one of the hardest hits. The executive director says consumers could expect to see higher ticket prices and longer wait times, all stemming from a reduction at Ft. Polk.

"For all the general people in Central Louisiana that fly out of Alexandria International, they need to know that 25% of our traffic comes from Ft. Polk," said Jon Grafton, executive director of the England Airpark. "Losing these soldiers would mean losing flights, more expensive tickets, more inconvenience in our travel."

Ft. Polk Progress urges all residents, not just business owners, to write to the US Army to tell them not to cut troops at Ft. Polk. If you'd like to get in touch with the Army, you can email them at usarmy.jbsa.nepa@mail.mil 

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