Air Force Base making improvements with stimulus

By Andy Owens
Published May 1, 2009

More than $7 million in federal stimulus money is in the pipeline to pay for maintenance and improvement projects at the Charleston Air Force Base, base engineering and financial staff members said this morning.

C-17 taxis at the Charleston Air Force base.Several contracts have been awarded and others are in negotiation as the Air Force Base’s 437th Contracting Squadron geared up to meet deadlines outlined by the stimulus plan. Many of the projects had already gone through the design phase and were just waiting on funding.

The Air Force Base is using existing contractors because they could respond quickly to a work order. But speed was only one aspect of the projects the Air Mobility Command submitted to the federal government for consideration. Need was the overriding concern.

“One of the big things I see in this is quality of life for our staff and our families,” said Maj. Michael Connor, comptroller squadron commander. “All of the things that occur on this base are key to getting those planes up every day.”

“Those planes” are the large C-17 cargo jets that truck everything — personnel, provisions, mine-resistant vehicles and other equipment — to troops stationed across the world, including in Iraq and Afghanistan. Charleston Air Force Base is home to the 437th Airlift Wing, which also conducts humanitarian relief and airdrop missions across the world.

Donald Marchant prepares an area for paving by the Charleston Air Force Base’s entrance on Dorchester Road last year. The construction project to help improve the traffic flow was performed by a contractor. (Photo/Airman 1st Class Melissa White/Charleston Air Force Base)

The economic impact of the Charleston Air Force Base on the surrounding communities was more than $784.4 million in 2007, according to numbers from the base public affairs office. The Air Force Base has 6,971 active-duty, Air Reserve and civilian personnel who work and live at the base.

Bill Dean, chief programs flight for the civil engineering squadron, said the work might not be the most glamorous on the Air Force Base, the $7.08 million puts people to work, adds money to the local economy and improves the working conditions of base personnel.

“It was all work that we had to execute this year, so it was work we were going to do anyway,” Dean said. “This really helps take a bite out of the infrastructure-type work.”

It also gives the base’s civil engineers some room to work on other projects earlier than expected.

Several of the contractors doing the work are from out of state, but all the work will be done in Charleston County and will utilize labor, subcontractors and supplies from the region, said Kathy Edenborough, director of business operations for the contracting squadron.

Most of the opportunities for small businesses in the Charleston area will be through subcontracting, she said. Work under the first contracts should begin within 45 days.

“Our base has a very strong history of supporting small businesses,” Edenborough said. “All of the projects we have here at Charleston Air Force Base are going to small businesses.”

Among the projects being performed at Charleston Air Force Base:

  • Roof repairs.
  • Heating and air conditioning.
  • Fire alarms.
  • Drainage.
  • Water system repairs.
  • Repaving.

A Federal Business Opportunities Web site gives businesses and industries a chance to connect with contractors and bid on jobs. One link on the site designates projects that use money from the federal stimulus.

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