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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Fort Bragg could lose 16,000 military and civilian jobs in the next six years under a new projection of the impact of the shrinking defense budget.
The figure is a worst-case scenario and is contained in a draft report by the Army Environmental Command, The Fayetteville Observer reported.
That report looks at the impact of defense cuts at 30 Army posts. It concluded that Fort Bragg is one of nine large Army installations that could lose 16,000 soldiers and civilians under the most extreme cuts.
North Carolina State University economist Michael Walden says if such cuts occurred, it would cause significant damage to the region's economy.
"Fayetteville is essentially a one-company town," Walden said. "You rise and fall with the military."
The projections say the region could lose nearly 22,000 jobs and the financial impact would be nearly $1 billion.
"That's like a recession. There's no way to paint this as good," he said.
Local governments would lose $11 million in estimated sales tax revenue.
Fort Bragg is still expected to remain the biggest Army base in the nation. Currently, roughly 10 percent of the Army is based at Fort Bragg, officials said.
Final decisions on which installations will see reductions have not been made, officials said. The report is designed to help decision-makers identify specific units and organizations to be affected between 2015 and 2020.
Doug Peters, president of the Fayetteville Regional Chamber, said the local business community would "weigh in early and often both privately and through the August public comment period."
Peters said the business community will be proactive and aggressive on possible reductions.
"We are not willing to accept worst-case scenario. Our community has long supported our military presence and will continue to do so," he said.