Local businesses brace for possible troop cuts at JBLM
NEAR JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD — JBLM could see a lot of downsizing in the next few years, and that would be bad for business in the communities around the military base.
It is part of the Army’s plan to make major reductions across the country. The worst-case scenario would be losing 16,000 troops at JBLM by 2020.
“I have my work completely cut out for me, just accommodating this amazing community,” said Sandy Ikemeier, owner of the Dupont General Store.
She opened eight months ago in Dupont Station, a shopping center built in reaction to the thousands of additional troops that poured into JBLM during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Within three months I had doubled my income,” said Krystlyn Harrison, owner of a salon in Dupont Station.
But since the 4th Stryker Brigade left last year, along with 4,500 troops, Harrison has seen income from her salon business drop by half.
Now she’s worried about more downsizing. With high rents, she’s not sure her business can survive.
“I may have to move back to Tacoma, and try to start a salon out there with everyone else,” said Harrison.
Neighboring communities like Lakewood are still studying what those cuts could mean to them. The Army figures a reduction of 16,000 troops would cost Pierce and Thurston counties around $970 million in annual income.
At the Dupont General Store, Sandy Ikemeier says she’s too busy building a community hub to worry about soldiers who may be leaving.
“When I went into this venture, a lot of people tried to talk me out of it,” said Ikemeier. “But I’m on a leap of faith and I always have been. Whether this business succeeds or fails, I’m still a winner for trying.”
The Army is taking public comment on the plan for the next two months. To leave a comment click here
The full report can be found here