CMSI Town Hall Recap: Support Needed for State, Local Economies to Recover
Posted on June 5, 2020

State and local governments still have uncertain challenges ahead of them as they economically recover from the coronavirus pandemic, even as public health risks remain. Following the data and federal investments will be important, according to panelists on CMSI’s virtual town hall, “Defense Communities in Recovery.”

State budgets shortfalls are likely to be the largest on record, said Michael Behn, CEO of State Side Government Affairs.

“Ultimately, the Pentagon is going to be hit as well in terms of funding cuts,” Behn said. “But the first folks who are being hit are these state and local governments, the hosts of the military bases.”

In Michigan, where the economy is heavily dependent on manufacturing, state officials have invested in recent years in helping companies adapt to support defense needs, according to Vicki Selva, executive director of the Michigan Defense Center, who said companies were able to use state and federal loans and grants to make that adjustment, giving her some hope about the economic turnaround.

Some of our suppliers have done very well,” Selva said. “They’ve been the ones that were flexible and were able to flow into the needs and to be able to retool, to meet some of those things.

Any future stimulus funding should also invest in transportation, according to Bill Cork, CEO of the Hancock County Port & Harbor Commission in Mississippi.

I think we’re going to have to look at some of this investment in the DOD realm and the FAA realm, and in the railroad universe and maritime universe,” Cork said. “We’re going to have to see how that plays out to support the logistics, the deployment capability, the transportation of our military and supply chains around the world.

Another priority is getting civilians and military spouses back to work, said Joe Driskill, executive director of the Missouri Military Preparedness and Enhancement Commission.

“The concern we have here is twofold: making sure that we understand who all the military spouses are and making sure that we understand what jobs they can actually vie for, and then creating the right conditions such that we can connect them with those jobs,” said Driskill, who is also president of the Association of Defense Communities. “That sounds pretty straightforward. It’s not.

In fact, employment and recruitment may look different after the pandemic, said Joe Mariani, research manager at the Deloitte Center of Government Insights. One silver lining, he said, is that the workforce’s adaptability to remote working may help employers and employees.

“It has the potential to open the scope of where the opportunities are,” Mariani said. “Previously, you were limited to what was in your commutable area…. But now with remote work, that becomes more broadly acceptable. Now it opens up the opportunities inside your communities much, much farther.”

Post courtesy of the Association of Defense Communities

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