Defense Cuts Will Hurt Our Local Economy

March 3, 2009

Recently, President Barack Obama announced that he will increase spending on national defense. However, if you look closely at the numbers, if the President kills the supplemental spending instituted after 9/11, we would actually be spending about $70 billion less next year. Much of the equipment used by our Armed Forces is dangerously outdated. While we are facing tough economic times and must tighten our belts, in an era of constant technological advancement we cannot afford to let our guard down.

In 2005, Lockheed Martin Systems Integration, located in Owego, was commissioned by the U.S. government to a multi-billion dollar deal to create 28 new Marine One helicopters. Much of the equipment used to transport and secure the President is extremely outdated, some still from the 1960s. This project is crucial for protecting the leader of our country.

It is also huge for the economy of the Southern Tier. The project employs around 800 people in or around Owego and has brought in significant revenue to the area. Also, a large majority of the components used in the project are American made. In addition, as a part of this deal, Lockheed agreed to build a $30 million, 176,000-square-foot integration center and additional hangars solely for the production of Marine One helicopters. Now, the President has stated that he will freeze the project and stop the influx of funding to our area.

New York is facing a financial crisis. Worries about job security have ballooned over the past year. The 800 people employed by this project have to worry about their future. In a dwindling job market, we must do all that we can to create and retain jobs in New York. The only way to stimulate the economy is to create good-paying jobs in order to keep businesses in our state.

We cannot allow President Obama to cut funding for this important project. Many families and communities in the Southern Tier rely on it as a source of income and revenue and the consequences of its closure would be disastrous. Stimulating the economy must begin from the ground up, and creating and retaining jobs must be our top priority in order to ensure a better future for all New Yorkers.