Columbus, Georgia: Civilian-Military Relationships Spawn Economic Development
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As the 1990s approached, Columbus, Georgia knew that military base realignments and closures were about to happen. Rather than wait for the U.S. Department of Defense to make its decision, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce took a proactive position. Specifically, through the Military Affairs & Commercial Development and Economic Development departments, the chamber partnered with the military community at Fort Benning to leverage their unique asset (i.e., strong civilian-military relationships) to reach three key objectives. One, the chamber and Fort Benning have partnered to support the work force needs of new and existing industry. Two, they have joined forces to resolve the area's problematic shortage of land for industrial development. Three, they have worked together to bolster Fort Benning's value in Columbus. The joint venture between the civilian and military communities in the greater Columbus area has yielded several benefits. New and existing businesses have created thousands of jobs and invested millions of new capital while soldiers and their families have realized new economic opportunities. Land is now available to meet the rising demand for industrial space. Instead of losing units during the 1990s, Fort Benning has gained military operations.