Nearly a dozen business leaders gathered for the Chamber’s U.S. Joint Forces Command (JFCOM) Task Force meeting held at the Chamber’s office on December 17. Terrie Suit, Assistant to the Governor for Commonwealth Preparedness, spoke to the group and provided an in-depth briefing on the extensive efforts being made by local, state, and federal officials to limit the impact of the proposed closure of the command facilities in the region. Since Secretary of Defense Gates’s closure announcement in August, the Governor’s office and our Congressional delegation have been working diligently to make the case that the JFCOM operations and functions are an important part of our national defense present and future.
Suit noted that the Commonwealth and the Virginia Congressional delegation are continuing cooperative dialogue with the Defense Department officials on a daily basis. They hope that we will keep the modeling and simulation along with the Joint war-fighting elements in the region, but it is anticipated that we may lose some of the military command functions. JFCOM currently employs approximately 3,900 military and civilian workers in the region. At this date, the number of jobs that will be lost is unknown, but an announcement from the Pentagon is expected in late December or early 2011.
On a positive note, the state and the Virginia Congressional delegation are engaged in marketing Hampton Roads as an excellent place to relocate the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) from Germany. If the Department of Defense moves this command back to the U.S., it could employ approximately 1,485 positions. Additionally, Suit noted that the State will work with Office of Economic Adjustment on developing and funding a One Stop Transition Center to assist businesses and contractors who may be negatively impacted by any cuts made in the region’s JFCOM facilities.
In September, the Chamber formed this special JFCOM Task Force aimed at addressing the issue on a local level. John Peterson, Senior Vice President of Development for Terry-Peterson Companies, serves as Task Force Chair and Suffolk City Councilman Robert Barclay serves as a liaison between the council and the task force.