Local leaders, small business owners worry about possible troop cuts at JBLM

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LAKEWOOD, Wash. —  Joint Base Lewis-McChord is facing an uncertain future, a possible troop reduction of more than 11,000 soldiers and civilian workers.

It’s a prospect that could also result in millions lost in revenue to local economies.

Michael Steadman, a Lacey city council member says it could be devastating.

“You are talking about 216 million dollars directly impacted to the local economy,” Steadman said.

Lacey is a military town nearly 5% of its households are owned by soldiers. Steadman also says the move would hurt small businesses.

“Less people in the doors, less people spending money, we’re just crawling out of this huge economic downturn,” he said. “It’s just starting to recover and this couldn’t come at a worst possible time.”

Business owner Ken Swarner runs the The Ranger, a base newspaper with a weekly circulation of more than 24,000.

He says JBLM is vital to the local economy.

"It is the second largest payroll in the state of Washington, just this base out of the rest of the military bases and it is the number one in the state of Washington," Swarner said.

Nearly 500 local leaders and business owners tried to convince the Pentagon not to make cuts.

The defense department admits the south Sound could lose as much as 970 million in annual income.

The troop reduction is under the army's 2020 Force Structure Realignment and could begin as soon as 2016.

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