KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. --
Keesler leadership and local community leaders participated in the Mississippi Gulf Coast Community Partnership Conference at the Biloxi Civic Center in Biloxi, Mississippi, June 6, 2018.
Keesler Air Force Base is one of 62 bases currently participating in the Air Force Community Partnership program. Keesler joined the program in May 2017 and has initiated nine different initiatives with Mississippi Gulf Coast.
“This conference allowed us the opportunity to hear from the senior leaders from the Pentagon and Washington D.C. about the program from a strategic-level perspective,” explained Dr. Wayne Clark, 81st Mission Support Group deputy director and AFCP program manager. “This was great for Keesler and the Mississippi Gulf Coast because this was more of an opportunity for the Air Force to feed into our program and provide us with some guidance and leadership.”
Jeanette Musil, project manager for the Office of Economic Adjustment, provided great insight on the OEA mission and the compatible use program. This program allows federal assistance to help communities work with military services to promote compatible civilian development while supporting the military mission. With this knowledge, base and community leadership learned about opportunities to further capitalize on the already strong partnership that has been created with this program.
“It was interesting to hear about the existence of and the mission of the OEA,” explained Cree Cantrell, former president of the Biloxi Bay Area Chamber of Commerce. “More importantly, it is exciting to know that there is a department within the Air Force that’s designed to help local communities. It’s really exciting to know that those resources are out there for the community.”
Instead of just being content with the initial initiatives set forth, KAFB and the Mississippi Gulf Coast want to strive for more and during this conference various partnership opportunities were discussed to include waste management, waste water, utilities, and pavement maintenance.
The purpose of the conference is to make sure ideas and efforts are aligned with the overall AFCP vision and mission and share those partnership opportunities in order to foster a greater bond and partnership with KAFB and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The event provided insight on other successful partnerships around the Air Force and helped Keesler cultivate more ideas for partnership with the local community in the future.
The common theme projected from the attendees is that this program allows for a more open relationship with the local community. It makes KAFB more than just a military installation within a community, but a neighborhood or partner within a community.
The next meeting will be a community partnership workshop September 10 through 12 at The Salvation Army Kroc Center in Biloxi, Mississippi, focusing on existing city and base contracts for goods and services in order to identify possible support service partnerships. Mr. Steven Bonner, AFCP lead facilitator, will facilitate the event. The workshop is open to the city subject matter experts and Keesler leadership. To find out more about this program you can visit http://www.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/628488/af-strengthens-ties-with-community-through-partnership-program/.