State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R,C - Schenectady) announced a $50,000 State grant will help fund a consortium of Schenectady County agencies working to prevent closure of the Stratton Air National Guard Base. The State funds will be augmented by a $25,000 grant from Metroplex and over $57,000 in local in-kind contributions.
The grant, part of the Empire State Development Corporation's (ESDC) Statewide Military Base Retention initiative, will be used to fund the Schenectady Military Affairs Council (SMAC), a project of the Chamber of Schenectady County. The Council, comprised of local business, civic, and military leaders, will implement an aggressive communications and marketing campaign designed to showcase the visibility and value of the Air National Guard Base and its missions.
Empire State Development Corporation Chairman Charles A. Gargano, who serves as head of the Governor's Military Base Task Force, said, "New York State's military bases are of vital importance to our communities and economy. Under Governor Pataki's leadership we have been taking every step necessary to ensure that New York's military bases retain and gain both military and civilian jobs. The Governor has taken that message directly to Washington as New York State continues to fight for our military families."
"I want to thank Governor Pataki and Chairman Gargano for taking this initiative to help Schenectady," said Senator Farley. "These funds are critical to our local efforts to ensure that the Air National Guard Base keeps contributing to the economy of Schenectady County, as well as to the defense of our nation."
Ray Gillen, Chairman of Metroplex, said, "Metroplex is pleased to contribute the $25,000 matching grant component of this coordinated effort to maintain the Stratton Air National Guard Base. We appreciate efforts by Senator Farley to help us obtain this State funding which is crucial to our efforts to defend the missions and jobs at the Base."
Charles Steiner, President of the Chamber of Schenectady County, said, "The strong collaborative support and leadership of New York State, Metroplex, Schenectady County, and the business community clearly indicates the importance and priority of retaining the Stratton Air National Guard Base. We are most grateful to the Governor, Senator Farley, Metroplex, and Schenectady County for their commitment to the efforts and mission of the Schenectady Military Affairs Council."
The Stratton Air National Guard Base is one of the top ten employers in Schenectady County, with a payroll of nearly $50 million and an overall economic impact of almost $100 million per year. The Base is under review by the federal Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) Commission, which may recommend closure of as many as twenty-five percent of the military bases nationwide.
Governor Pataki established a Military Base Task Force in 2002, and is working to protect New York bases and jobs during this round of base closures. A similar coordinated State approach in 1995 helped to save over 4,000 jobs by removing bases in Niagara Falls and Rome from the federal closure list.
The Navy Reserve is planning to construct a $20 million training center at the Schenectady County Airport, adding to the number of military missions in Glenville. An important component of this year's base closure process is that the Department of Defense favors bases that perform missions for multiple branches of the military.
State agencies have already been working with local officials to emphasize the missions of the local Guard Base. The State Thruway Authority and State Department of Transportation, acting at the request of the Town of Glenville and the Stratton ANGB, recently installed directional signs from the Thruway to the Schenectady County Airport and the Guard Base.