Economic impact reflects Team Keesler's talent

  • Published
  • By Brig. Gen. Andrew Mueller
  • 81st Training Wing commander
Each year as a key component of our community relations program, our base public affairs office describes the economic impact of Keesler on south Mississippi. In 2011, it's estimated that Keesler's economic impact exceeds $700 million. This total includes more than 1,400 civil service and 1,600 contactor jobs that provide more than $200 million in annual salaries, in addition to more than $150 million in purchasing through local vendors and contractors.

According to the Sun Herald, Keesler is the second largest employer in South Mississippi! This huge impact comes with important responsibilities to our surrounding communities that every member of Team Keesler should understand and support whenever possible.

First, we should take every opportunity to describe to our community partners what we do at Keesler and why it's important to the mission of the United States Air Force. While the "Hurricane Hunters" and undergraduate cyberspace training are easily associated with our base, operating the only genetics laboratory in the Department of Defense is just one of the key components of our team. Everything we do is important, so take time and learn more about Keesler and be proud to tell folks everything our team does.

Second, Keesler is an outstanding base. In fact, in 2011 Keesler was recognized the best installation in Air Education and Training Command. Be proud of the heritage of this base and take the opportunity to showcase our facilities to the members of our community. Get to know your unit's honorary commanders who represent our community partners and encourage them to be a part of your unit activities. Get involved in programs like next month's Mississippi Special Olympics that opens our installation to 1,500 athletes from around the state or the our biennial Air Show that offered more than 160,000 visitors a chance to watch "Angels over the Bay" in 2011.

Finally, make no mistake -- we could not do our mission without the support of our community partners. Simply put, without our local community we would have no place to send our children to school! Take the time to be involved with programs in our neighboring communities. In 2011, Keesler's men and women contributed more than 300,000 hours of volunteer work in the surrounding area. Each of us has talent and experience -- get out and use these gifts as a part of our volunteer force in 2012.

There is more than $700 million associated with Keesler's mission of Training, Caring and Innovating ... developing combat power for air, space and cyberspace. That economic impact is a reflection of the incredible dedication, talent and experience of each member of Team Keesler. You are the face of Keesler -- let others know what you do and take pride in showcasing our base to our community neighbors. Keesler is an integral part of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, and I hope you're proud to say, "I work at Keesler."