Proposed troop reduction at Fort Stewart worries businesses - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Proposed troop reduction at Fort Stewart worries businesses

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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Military budget cuts were touched on in President Barack Obama's State of the Union address last week. The proposed cuts could have a major impact on Fort Stewart, Hunter Army Airfield and nearby bases, and their surrounding communities.  

Businesses who deal with military personnel tell WTOC they are bracing for the worst.

Scott Parker, owner of Plantation Self Storage on Ogeechee Road has seen the news and heard the speculation about military cuts and how it could impact Fort Stewart.

"We're hearing any where from 12,000 to 20,000 people being pulled out of the area. 12,000 troops and 8,000 support personnel," Parker said. "Military ends up being about 70 percent of our business."  

The numbers Parker is hearing are coming straight from soldiers telling him they may be moving.

"We've had a number of them come in and because of their rank and years of service they are concerned for their own jobs and if they will be allowed to re-up when it comes time," he said.

For Parker, whose business occupancy is 50 percent active military and another 20 percent military related, he says a 25 percent drop in business, or more, is becoming all too real.

"It concerns me. I'm sure there are other businesses it concerns also," Parker said.

"There are so many people who do business there on a contract basis who will be laid off, so I am concerned about the way it will hit," Congressman Jack Kingston told WTOC.

Kingston said the looming proposed cuts, which in January were predicted to include 8,000 troops moved out of Fort Stewart, has him worried on many levels.

"A bigger picture than that is a military base is really not about the economic well being of it's host city. They are about national security. So if you cut too far too deep too soon, you embolden our enemies," Kingston said. "With Al Quaida and terrorists roaming the globe you don't want to send the wrong signal."

The option of adding troops to Fort Stewart exists, but for Parker, seems like a long shot. He hopes they find out sooner what will happen, rather than later. 

"We could use the boost instead of them taking away," Parker said.

No timetable has been given  for a decision on *what* the changes will be and *when* they'll  happen.  Of course - we'll keep you posted.

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