4:36pm

Wed July 18, 2012
Business and the Economy

As Wars Wind Down, Depot Left Without Work

The Blue Grass Army Depot is preparing for further troop reductions, which has Kentucky lawmakers and business leaders in the region worried. WEKU Correspondent Matt Laslo reports from Washington.

A perfect storm is brewing around the Bluegrass Army Depot. The economy in the state is already depressed and yet one of the mission’s of the depot is less important as the U-S slowly exits conflicts overseas, as Kentucky Democrat Ben Chandler explains.

“Obviously the Bluegrass Army Depot and the jobs that are there are extremely important to the people in Central Kentucky, but I think we all have to recognize, at least on some level, that as wars wind down and there’s less need for ammunition some jobs will be lost,” said Chandler.

Officials in the region are now bracing for the depot to lose around three hundred employees in the fall. On Wednesday officials from the Pentagon met with Chandler and business leaders. Chandler says they reiterated to defense officials the ability of the depot to change missions and evolve as needed.

“Well the important thing to us of course is we would like to avoid as many of these layoffs as we possibly can, but in addition to that were looking toward the long term and the long term health of the Bluegrass Army Depot. That depot has been a tremendous source of moving ammunition for our military efforts in this country for many, many decades,” said Chandler.

Kentuckians in the meeting say they got a warm response from the Pentagon. Lenny Stoltz is the executive director of the Bluegrass Area Development District. While he wouldn’t get into the specifics of the discussion, Stoltz says he left feeling good about the long-term health of the depot.

“I am definitely optimistic. The Pentagon met with us, they were hearing our concerns, willing to go back and work towards our concerns and keep us informed. It’s a great relationship and I don’t see why we won’t be successful we just need to keep a dialogue going,” said Stoltz.

The other sword hanging over the depot is the pending budget cuts that are set to rip through the military’s budget in January. If lawmakers can’t reach a long term deal to cut the federal debt hundreds of billions of dollars will be indiscriminately cut from the military and that could fall hard on the Bluegrass Army Depot and other installations in the state.