FORT DRUM The posts economic impact on the north country has been measured at more than $1.6 billion, its largest estimate since the 2008 fiscal year.
The calculation of the posts financial impact, released Monday, showed it had contributed $1,633,341,987 to the economies of Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties in the 2011 fiscal year.
The report, documenting the period of Oct. 1, 2010, to Sept. 30, 2011, shows a large jump from the previous year, when the total impact came in at $1,505,857,420. The posts largest economic impact report came in 2008, when it was estimated to have brought $1,682,987,413 to the area.
The study also showed a substantial rise in education funds.
Local school districts received $21,850,776 in federal impact aid, up from $17,919,524 the previous year.
We depend very heavily on that aid, and were very appreciative of receiving it, said Judy L. Waligory, interim superintendent of the Carthage Central School District.
Watertown Superintendent Terry N. Fralick said at last count, soldiers children made up about 27 percent of the districts enrollment. The district expects to receive $350,000 in aid for those students for the next school year, he said. Without federal aid, the cost of teaching those children would be passed on through property tax increases.
In todays economic times, any increase in federal aid, state aid or financial resources is very important to us, Mr. Fralick said.
The post also authorized $721,000 in tuition assistance to local colleges.
Approximately 525 active duty soldiers used the tuition assistance program to enroll in local college and distance-learning courses.
Fort Drum is the areas largest employer, with 19,987 soldiers and 4,614 civilian workers. Payrolls totaled $1,012,895,645 and $204,183,368, respectively, for fiscal year 2011. The area also has 2,353 military retirees, who received $45,264,000.
The real economic driver is people earning good wages and spending it in the community. And thats what theyre doing, said Carl A. McLaughlin, executive director of the Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization.
In addition to soldiers, the post supports 26,671 family members who call the north country their home. The installation has infused more than $16.9 billion into the local economy since fiscal year 1988 in spending such as payroll, housing, contracts and aid to public schools.
Its not this investment alone that makes us one of the top installations for soldiers who re-enlist to stay, said Col. Noel T. Nicolle, the posts garrison commander, in a released statement. We are an Army community of excellence because the north country appreciates the service provided by our soldiers, families and civilians as much as our economic impact.
The post awarded $39,779,844 in contracts for construction, supplies, services and purchases on government credit cards, while the Army Corps of Engineers awarded $202,200,000 in contracts for work on the post.
The full 2011 economic statement can be viewed at http://www.drum.army.mil/SiteCollectionDocuments/FY11EIB.pdf.