On May 10, The Whiteman Area Leadership Council (WALC) spent a great deal of time discussing the possibility of having the Missouri Military Preparedness Enhancement Commission (MMPEC) represent the WALC, the Sedalia Area Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee and the Base Community Council.
The MMPEC is an arm of the Missouri State Department of Economic Development in Jefferson City. It is currently comprised of five members, assisted by a 10-member advisory group. The MMPEC meets five or six times per year, according to the group’s website.
Its goal for 2012 is to “make Missouri more military friendly.”
WALC Treasurer Linda Christle attended the meeting and commented on the issue afterwards.
“I think that there could be combined partnerships of this area on behalf of Whiteman Air Force base. However, of all of those groups, if they should so choose, if they want to go on their own, in addition, but if they want to take a group to Washington, DC, to approach different entities, I see value in that,” Christle said.
“But I also see value in the (MMPEC) going forth on behalf of the state of Missouri for all bases, but if (individual groups) want to go on their own, that should occur, because they may have specific issues they want to discuss,” she concluded.
The prospect of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) still looms over Whiteman and other military facilities, hence the need to represent Whiteman AFB in Washington.
According to a 2004 study done by MERIC (Missouri Economic Research and Information Center), the presence of the military in Missouri had a significant impact on the state economy. The presence of active military and civilian employees caused an increase in gross state product of $3 billion and a $1.7 billion dollar increase in wage and salary income for Missouri.
In addition to the 24,510 active civilian and military jobs provided through direct employment by the Department of Defense, the presence of the military in Missouri also added another 18,000 jobs to the economy, the study concluded.
During the meeting, held at US Bank, 3615 W. Broadway, Sedalia Mayor and WALC President Elaine Horn presented a $3,000 check from Third National Bank.
“I had the opportunity to visit with (President) Larry Bahr at Third National Bank, explaining to him the mission of the WALC, what we do, how we do it, and that we know in the near future that Congress is considering another BRAC. (Funding WALC) helps us help Whiteman be as strong as they can be so they don’t have to worry about facing a closure,” Horn noted.
“Third National is a huge supporter of the military and veterans and we felt that was a great resource to reach out to,” she added.
The WALC also receives funds from the Johnson County Development Corporation ($3,00 annually), Pettis County ($1,000 annually), Sedalia Pettis County Community Service Corporation ($500 annually), University of Central Missouri $1,000), State Fair Community College ($500), City of Sedalia ($2,000), Charter Communications ($500), City of Warrensburg ($3,000), Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce ($500 annually), City of Knob Noster ($500), City of Clinton ($2,500 in 2010) and Henry County ($1,000 in 2010), in addition to various contributions from area businesses such as realty companies, banks and hospitals.
Mayor Horn will be part of a small WALC delegation that visits Washington, DC, May 22-23, along with Bill Gabel and Keith Crumley. The trio will pay a visit to senior officials at the Pentagon.
“We will talk to them about Whiteman AFB and the role it plays in our communities, and the effect that closing it or changing its mission would have on the communities surrounding it. We love Whiteman; there’s not a town around here that isn’t appreciate and supportive of them. And we just want to make sure they understand that and we make that message very clear to them … we will do everything we can to support Whiteman and make them the strongest base in the country,” Mayor Horn stated.