State’s Economic Chief Vows Response to New BRAC Challenge

State Senator Patty Ritchie said she was reassured Tuesday that the state is committed to defending Fort Drum, New York’s largest military installation and one of the biggest civilian employers in all of Upstate, from a new round of federal base-closing cuts.

In response to questioning from the Senator during an budget hearing, the state’s top economic development official said  that Governor Cuomo was already working to develop a plan that would convince Congress and the federal government of the importance of the post, its billions of dollars in annual investment and 4,000 civilian employees to the region’s economy, as well as the nation’s defense.

Rattling off a list of statistics of civilian and military employees and payroll, and calling Fort Drum’s growth over the past decade “an amazing story” that benefits all of Upstate New York, state Economic Development Kenneth Adams said that Governor Cuomo “very much understands the imperative of keeping Fort Drum a thriving economic magnet for Northern New York,” and that the Governor was “committed to responding to this federal challenge to New York State, and preserve all the jobs and investment at Fort Drum and other installations in the state.”

Senator Ritchie also won a pledge from the Commissioner to work closely with local representatives of the Fort Drum community to protect the installation.

Commissioner Adams said Senator Ritchie made “an excellent practical point” when she raised concerns about uncertainty that may be caused by a new round of BRAC and the continuing need for Drum-related investment in neighboring communities.

“Clearly, Commissioner Adams has done his homework, and I am glad that the future of Fort Drum is high on the list of the Governor’s economic development and job preservation priorities,” Senator Ritchie said.

“While I, along with my community, believes that Fort Drum has a great story to tell and would survive scrutiny on its merits, Drum's importance to the economy of our state, I believe, necessitates state assistance in the process of defending one of our most important assets.”

Senator Ritchie has been in discussions with her Senate and Assembly colleagues, as well as state agency officials, since the President’s announcement last week, about finding ways to mount an effective defense for the post.

During the previous round of BRAC proceedings, in 2005, the state committed resources through the state budget to protecting Fort Drum and other installations across the state. BRAC cuts require Congressional approval.