Strong military tie is vital for N.C.

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, December 18, 2013

North Carolina is blessed and honored to be the home of six major military installations and 139,000 brave men and women in uniform who serve our state and our country. An additional 769,000 veterans call The Old North State home.
Our military presence has enormous economic impact for our state. It accounts for $48 billion dollars, which is 10 percent of our economy and 540,000 jobs.
While much of the military activity is located in Eastern North Carolina, 82 of our 100 counties have businesses that received military contracts in 2012. Clearly, we must work vigorously to nurture and grow North Carolina’s relationship with the military.
We’re proud of our military installations and our military communities. They support many of our towns and businesses throughout the state. That’s the message we took to Washington, D.C., earlier this month when meeting with military and congressional leaders at the Pentagon and on Capitol Hill. We’re thankful for the military’s presence as an economic engine and North Carolina wants to be a permanent partner.
The trip to the Pentagon and Capitol Hill is only part of our efforts to protect and grow military investment in North Carolina. This year, we supported increased education opportunities for active duty personnel, promoted more and better job opportunities for veterans, and legislation was signed into law to better protect the operational capabilities of our military bases from encroachment. We also restructured the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission to inform key leaders on how we can better meet the needs of the armed forces, active duty personnel and veterans.
As the War in Iraq has concluded and with Afghanistan operations scheduled to conclude in 2014, it is estimated that 60,000 active duty personnel will separate from service in North Carolina during the next five years. Many of those leaving the military will be doing so with multiple overseas tours under their belts. They will have specialized training and experience in fields such as health care, law enforcement, construction and communications. Our goal is to encourage these folks to stay in North Carolina and help grow our economy. We want to match these American heroes with the needs of our job marketplace.
The military has a long, proud history in North Carolina and has been a valuable partner to local governments across the state. We’ll continue to work closely with Pentagon officials and other military leaders as well as support the good work of our congressional delegation to ensure that the military remains a vital part of our culture, economy and our future.
Sustaining and growing our state’s relationship with the military is a key part of North Carolina’s economic revival.
Pat McCrory is the governor of North Carolina.