Chamber of Commerce backs Camp Minden RTI

The Regional Training Institute at Camp Minden continues to gain support for completion.

The Minden-South Webster Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors approved a resolution on Wednesday supporting the completion of the RTI. The board is also sending letters to U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and John Kennedy and Rep. Mike Johnson asking for their support in helping secure federal funds to complete the project.

The facility, which is being built in four phases, will provide regionalized leadership and military occupational specialty training for the Amy National Guard. The first phase was completed in 2011 at a cost of $23.5 million.

The remaining three phases were never started after federal funds were cut. The project, which is funded by Department of Defense funding, is expected to cost just over $100 million once completed.

Based on numbers from a 2009 study, the economic impact from the RTI once completed would be about $25 million in the local economy annually — $9.5 million in tax revenue over a 10-year period, $12 million in the purchase of goods and services, $5 million in operating costs and $8 million in payroll.

“This was a no brainer,” said Chamber President Stephanie Barnette of the resolution of support. “This Regional Training Institute is a great thing for all of us in this area — not only for Minden, but for all of northwest Louisiana because it is an economic development for all of us.”

Phase two will include the addition of two administration buildings and two more dormitories and is expected to cost $26.5 million.

“Each phase builds on what we already have,” Lt. Col. Brad Kendall told the Press-Herald in March. “Each phase adds more classrooms, more dormitories and more administrative areas. The reason they’ve done that is so that we’re able to function. We’re operational now, but we’ll be able to function at a larger capacity after each phase.”

Phases three and four will complete the RTI, with 273,000 square feet of building space on 80 acres, including a motor pool and physical training fields.

Retired Col. Carl Thompson, former assistant camp commander at Camp Minden and current Chamber board member asked the Webster Parish Police Jury at their meeting in early July to consider adopting a resolution supporting the RTI. Wednesday he was filled with gratitude over the Chamber’s support.

“I’d like to commend the Chamber on supporting the completion of the Regional Training Center,” he said over the phone. “We need jobs in the area and once the project is complete, it is expected to bring around 250. This is not only great for Minden, but will have a huge impact on the region.”

In 2009, then Gov. Bobby Jindal invested $4 million from the Governor’s Rapid Response Fund to help land the RTI at Camp Minden.

Once complete, RTI operations that are currently in operation at Camp Cook in Ball will be moved to Camp Minden and the military installment could see up to 10,000 soldiers from around the nation train at the facility each year.



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