Camp Minden hoping to benefit from DoD surplus
The U.S. Department of Defense has more money than it knows where to spend this fiscal year, and Camp Minden could potentially reap some benefits.
The DoD will soon reportedly have an extra $34 billion in defense contract funds, and it must spend the sum this year or risk losing it. The Greater Minden Chamber is helping to raise awareness for the Regional Training Institute at Camp Minden to be among the beneficiaries from this surplus.
According to an article from Bloomberg Government, the Budget Act of 2018, which was signed into law by President Trump on Feb. 9, raised the cap on defense spending from $549.1 billion to $629 billion. The DoD receives about 95 percent of that total, and they may only have six months to spend it between the potential approval of the fiscal 2018 budget and the end of the fiscal year.
The Minden chamber sees this situation as an opportunity for the RTI to receive funding, and chamber President Stephanie Barnette has been reaching out to local leaders to help Camp Minden get noticed.
“Our goal is to make sure the Department of Defense knows, and doesn’t forget, about Camp Minden and the RTI,” Barnette said. “It’s hard to fathom a government entity having a surplus of money, much less a $34 billion surplus that has to be spent by the year end. We are hopeful that now is the time to get the funding.”
The RTI completed the first of its four-phase construction concept in 2011, and Phase 2 has not yet begun.
Construction and operation of the RTI is funded solely from the federal level.
The Chamber has created ready-made letters for parish citizens to send to elected officials at the state and federal level, with the goal of keeping the RTI fresh in the minds of decision makers. According to these letters, the RTI “currently provides military training for over 2,000 soldiers from throughout the United States.” When completed, that number will grow to 10,000 soldiers, which will “infuse $25 million annually into the northwest Louisiana economy.”
Barnette said the potential for economic growth in the area if the RTI were completed would be tremendous.
“From the hundreds of jobs that would be created, to the money that will be infused into our community, we believe this is a win-win for northwest Louisiana,” she said. “Hundreds of soldiers will be sent here for training. Those soldiers will need to go shopping, look for recreational opportunities, and eat in restaurants. Our hope is that they choose to do all of that and more in Webster Parish.”
Barnette said the Chamber is urging everyone, not just businesses, to reach out to representatives and make their voices heard on this matter.
“If you are unsure of what to write, or to whom, contact us at the Chamber and we will send you the addresses and a sample letter,” she said. “All you will have to do is fill in a few blanks. This is something positive that we should all be able to get behind.”