In July 2015, the U.S. Army announced that Alaska’s 4th Airborne Brigade Combat Team of the 25th Infantry Division based at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson—located within the Municipality of Anchorage (MOA)—would be downsized by 2,631 active duty soldiers by the end of fiscal year 2017.
Using a grant from the US Department of Defense the MOA tasked the Northern Economics team, which included public involvement and GIS subconsultants, with documenting the potential social and economic impacts in an objective and unbiased way to inform decision-makers and the public and enable more rational and meaningful discussions regarding the region’s future. Notwithstanding the fact that the U.S. Army had delayed its final decision on the force reduction, the study provides a better understanding of the economic sectors and locations in which impacts would most likely to be felt, and will help local government agencies more effectively plan and direct public resources.
The Northern Economics team utilized a combination of the Alaska REMI Model, GIS mapping techniques, and public input to forecast the demographic and economic implications of the proposed force reduction out through 2030. The Alaska REMI Model enabled the team to forecast direct and induced population and demographic changes as well as direct and induced changes in employment, personal income, and housing prices. The study also identified several key sectors for special consideration including retail (e.g., car dealerships, shopping malls), moving and storage companies, restaurants and bars, education, and transportation. Finally, various mapping exercises provided a more accurate picture of the geographic locations where many impacts will take place in the context of the MOA and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough.