LAKEWOOD — According to a plan released on Friday, December 17, 2010, unprecedented growth at Joint Base Lewis-McChord (JBLM) during the first decade of 21st Century, coupled with projected future growth over the next five years, will result in unanticipated economic opportunities for the South Puget Sound region. Several top-tier findings of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Growth Coordination Plan, which has been a year in the making, bode well for the local economy in Thurston and Pierce counties.
“The intent of this ambitious planning effort was to identify opportunities and services to support thousands of additional military and civilian employees and their families,” said Lakewood City Manager Andrew Neiditz. “While growth brings challenges, it is clear to me that the region is very appreciative of all the benefits our military brings to our communities and neighborhoods.”
When combined in January 2010, Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base became the largest military installation west of the Mississippi River and is the third largest employer in the state of Washington. From 2003 to 2010, total military and civilian personnel stationed at JBLM grew from 32,700 to 50,587, a 43 percent growth. Additionally, the number of family members grew from 36,399 to 53,444, a 77 percent growth. The region experienced the full impact of this growth when 17,000 troops returned from deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan this fall.
The JBLM Growth Coordination Plan identified both positive economic outcomes as well as impacts on local services in the South Puget Sound region during the next five years.
Positive Economic Outcomes
- Increase in construction spending – The plan anticipates that more than $3.9 billion will be spent on new construction at the joint military base between 2006 and 2016. Construction projects will include new facilities to support JBLM’s expanded mission and the addition of new soldiers, officers and airmen who will be assigned to the base. Approximately $2.4 billion of the total amount projected to be spent on construction during this time period will occur on the base and will include new barracks, 563 new family housing units, a new town center development and expanded medical and behavioral health facilities.
- Regional employment gains – Employment “spin-off” related to the growth at JBLM is projected to increase over the next two years. By 2013, non-military related employment in Pierce County is projected to reach 14,265 people with construction accounting for approximately 4,150 jobs or 29 percent of the total.
- Increase in state Gross Regional Product (GRP) – The market value of all final goods and services produced within the region, defined as Gross Regional Product, is projected to increase from $708 million in 2010 to more than $1.3 billion in 2016. This includes: spending by local governments; investments within the region by private firms and individuals; overall consumer consumption; the effects of international trade on the regional economy; and changes in business inventories.
- Rise in personal income – Personal income within Pierce and Thurston counties is anticipated to increase from $706 million in 2010 to $1.6 billion in 2016. Pierce County is expected to experience the bulk of growth in personal income during this period.
- Future demand for housing – Between 2010 and 2016, approximately 780 additional military personnel and their families will require off-base housing near the military base. It is anticipated that the majority of these soldiers and their families will be located in Lacey, Tacoma and Lakewood.
Administered by the City of Lakewood, and funded through a grant from the U.S. Department of Defense Office of Economic Adjustment, the JBLM Growth Coordination Plan is the result of a year-long collaborative effort involving more than 100 public and private service providers and jurisdictions in the South Puget Sound region. Stakeholders were tasked with addressing the challenges, issues, and opportunities brought about by the growth at the joint military base in the following ten areas:
- Education, Childcare, and Schools
- Land Use Policy
- Public Safety
- Utilities and Infrastructure
- Social Services
- Quality of Life (recreation, libraries, etc.)
Earlier this year, the City of Lakewood partnered with the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) to conduct a study that assessed the impacts on I-5 brought about by population growth in the region and at the military base. The recommendations from the study have been incorporated into a Growth Coordination Plan.
The final report is posted on the project website at www.jblm-growth.com.
About Lakewood, Washington
Lakewood is the second largest city in Pierce County and the fifteenth largest in Washington. It is strategically located between Sea-Tac International Airport and Olympia, the state’s capital. The city is home to 60,000 residents and nearly 1,100 businesses. Lakewood also is the host community to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Camp Murray, two major military installations. In 2010, Lakewood was named one of the nation’s One Hundred Best Communities for Young People by America’s Promise Alliance for the fourth year.
In addition to vibrant residential and business communities, the city offers a myriad of recreational opportunities for residents and tourists. These include: five lakes; Fort Steilacoom Park, and Lakewold Gardens, to name a few. The city also is the gateway to: Chambers Bay Golf Course, selected as home to the 2015 U.S. Open; Mt. Rainier National Park; and Puget Sound waterways and islands.
For more information about the City of Lakewood, visit www.cityoflakewood.us.