Whether by air at Tyndall Air Force Base or sea with Panama City Naval Support Activity, both military installations are valuable to Bay County's economy.
"Somewhere close to a billion dollars a year for an economic impact to Bay County," says Larry Dantzler of the local Bay Defense Alliance.
Tyndall and the Navy base also combine to rank Bay County among the state's top ten counties in military spending. The Navy base is known for its mine defense training and Tyndall is home to the F-A 22 pilot training program, all valuable assets, which may help to keep both bases open.
The Department of Defense is eyeing both military bases for possible cuts and closure in 2005. That is when another round of base realignment and closure begins. Ninety-five to 100 military facilities are expected to close to reduce D.O.D. expenditures.
However, Dantzler says, "They spend many millions of dollars on closing bases, but slowly they are getting that refund by not having to operate inefficient bases."
Local officials do not believe Tyndall and Naval support are even close to being ever considered inefficient. Plus, one distinct advantage both have in avoiding possible BRAC closure is they both use the same very large training range, the Gulf of Mexico.
"That is a very valuable assets and it is an assets that you can't replicate in many places," says Dantzler. "The fact that they are both located on that range is very important."
There have been four BRAC rounds since 1988, but next year's will be the first in 10 years. The other rounds were in 1991 and 1993.