Business, government and community leaders from the four counties around Missouri’s biggest military base are mobilizing to limit additional damage caused by the next round of federal sequestration cuts. Members of the Sustainable Ozarks Partnership are meeting today to develop a new strategy to make sure Fort Leonard Wood remains a major installation and a major economic factor in the area. Former state economic development director Joe Driskill, who leads the organization, says the Fort would be the fifth largest employer in the state if it were a private business.
“We think there is an immediate threat to Fort Leonard Wood,” he says because of a second round of mandatory $50 billion in sequestration budget cuts will hit October first, the start of the next federal fiscal year. He says this year’s sequestration cuts have led to hundreds of layoffs at the fort, and one-day-a-week furloughs for civilian employees. Driskill says those furloughs have hurt the area economy.
He thinks the organization’s efforts helped convince the Army to cut only 885 jobs at the post this year instead of the 3900 positions originally proposed. He hopes the new strategy will be even more effective in the face of future possible layoffs.