Westover brings in nearly $195 million to area economy

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  • 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The 439th Airlift Wing added almost $195 million to the community in fiscal year 2018. The number represents a decrease of $18 million from the previous year, due in part to a decrease in military payroll and construction at Westover.

The wing impacted communities within a 50-mile radius with an economic impact of $194,541,415 from Oct. 1, 2017 to Sept. 30, 2018. In 2017, the base’s economic impact was $212,534,218.

“Despite declining military budgets, it is important to remember that Westover’s operations with the Air Force Reserve and our joint partners continue to be a major contributor to the Western Massachusetts economy,” said Col. Scott Durham, 439th Airlift Wing commander.

Previous years’ economic impacts were

2016 – $197,254,006
2015 – $221,175,721
2014 - $220,856,889
2013 - $224,946,752.

Construction and related expenditures decreased $5.8 million last year, according to Deborah Heady, Westover cost and management analyst. Westover received $13.1 million in construction funding, a decrease of $8.2 million from 2017. A large portion of the construction funding was used to renovate the Base Hangar. Additional construction funds were also received for the Avionics Building, DC Hangar and the Security Forces parking lots.

The total base payroll was nearly $120 million in 2018, which was an overall decrease of $6.4 million from last year, due to a $7.1 million decrease in military funding, offset by an approximate $1.5 million increase in civilian payroll and a $700,000 decrease in contractor and non-appropriated fund salaries.

Westover’s presence created an estimated 812 indirect jobs at an average salary of more than $50,000 per year. The value of estimated indirect jobs created decreased by about $5.8 million, primarily as a result of decreases in military funding and construction, Heady said.

The total number of base Air Force employees – active duty, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard and civilians - decreased from 3,284 in 2017 to 2,898 in 2018.

The economic figures and personnel counts do not include the base’s 28 tenant units, which include ten Army units and three Marine units, which together employ about 1,700 people, mainly reservists.

The total impact also doesn’t include the numbers from the 2018 Great New England Air and Space Show. In 2015, a UMass study concluded that the air show generated $11.6 million in local spending.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Airman 1st Class Chanhda Ly contributed to this article.