LAS VEGAS -- It's easy to take for granted that Southern Nevada is home to two Air Force bases and a training range but their combined economic impact is so enormous they should be included in any serious conversation regarding economic diversification.
Last fiscal year, Nellis and Creech Air Force bases and the Nevada Test and Training Range contributed nearly $5.1 billion to the Southern Nevada economy. That included $3 billion in spending on construction, equipment, supplies, services and other needs.
Nellis alone supported 41,093 individuals in fiscal 2011, including 9,748 individuals on active duty and 26,005 dependents. The military facilities also created 6,521 indirect jobs.
The good news for area contractors is that a lot more spending will be done at Nellis if the Air Force proceeds with plans announced in July to place 36 F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft at the base in the northeast valley. The Air Force also announced March 7 that Nellis, Creech and the training range can expect the addition of 270 active duty personnel next fiscal year.
"Much of the additional military manpower for Nellis is dedicated to flying operations such as the F-35 program as well as increasing medical care personnel to provide expanded capabilities for our airmen, soldiers, sailors and Marines at the Mike O'Callaghan Federal Medical Center," Brig Gen. Steven Garland, 99th Air Base Wing commander, said.
If the planes come to Nellis, which the air base anticipates could happen as soon as late summer, it would require construction of new facilities and alteration or demolition of existing ones.