Study: Oklahoma National Guard has big financial impact on state
In the immediate aftermath of the Moore storms, large-scale rescue and recovery and security was needed across huge areas of central Oklahoma.Help that was swift and extremely beneficial.Leaders of the Oklahoma National Guard teamed up with economists from Southwestern Oklahoma State University to figure out what the impact was to the entire state --- when disasters aren't happening."The end result has shown that Oklahoma National Guard has a substantial positive impact on the state of Oklahoma and the regional economy," said senior research analyst Fui Ting Phang.Substantial in the terms that it brings in $2.5 billion dollars each year.Most of that impact comes through jobs, nearly 14,000 jobs expected in the next few years."The folks that constantly question us are the municipalities, the communities. And that always comes in the form of 'what value do you bring to the city'. Hate to say that in monetary terms, but that's always a discussion," said Col. Curtis Arnold, director of installation management.Arnold points to Ardmore as an example of tangible impact. The first armory was built there in 1936 at a cost of $50,000. Another armory was built in 1985 at a cost of $2.5 million. A third will be built in 2017 for $22 million dollars, bringing jobs and spending."Really what they want to know is what are they investing in. Because it's not an immediate, upfront, return. It takes time to appropriate this money. It takes time to build these buildings and then, in, 10-20 years, you're going to see a little more action, so it takes a lot of civic leadership and vision," said Captain Houston Cantrell, property attorney for the national guard.Of course, national guard leaders say while the economic impact is great, what helps the state more than anything is knowing the help they get when called into action.The Oklahoma National Guard has 9,000 members.