JACKSONVILLE — The number of military boots marching from North Carolina will be the third highest in the nation with the Marine Corps increase of 11,477 military per-sonnel at area bases in the next five years.
That could be a great boon to the economy of the seven counties, including Craven, that will be directly affected, Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue said Friday. She spoke after the formal announcement of the ramp-up in Jacksonville by Maj. Gen. Robert C. Dickerson, commander of Marine Corps Installations-East.
The growth will increase the $2.85 billion military payroll in eastern North Carolina by $435 million and pour $1 billion into the economy in new construction this fiscal year alone, Dickerson said.
But it comes with an up-front price to get ready for the huge influx of people, Perdue said.
Eastern North Carolina communities will shoulder the brunt of that cost unless changes are made in North Carolina’s incentives laws to allow state funding for military economy growth as is done for private industry.
The numbers Dickerson confirmed Friday are part of an overall five-year increase in Marine Corps strength to 202,000 so the Corps can better fulfill its mission and increase the time between deployments for personnel.
The build-up will put North Carolina in third place, behind Virginia and Texas, in military resources, with California slipping down to fourth place.
The 11,477 number does not include as many as 19,500 Marines who will come into the area each of those years for 30-day to one-year training, he said.
Cherry Point will get 1,485 new active-duty and civilian jobs aboard base with the in-crease, accompanied by an estimated 1,241 dependents.
Camp Lejeune is expected to get 8,052 active-duty and civilian jobs with an estimated 7,009 dependents and New River 1,411 active-duty and civilian jobs with about 1,252 dependents.
The first of these at Cherry Point will be about 170 civilians who will be hired to re-place military personnel working in base security, said Col. Frank Bottorff, commander of Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point.
Cherry Point will also see some of the first new military personnel assignments as two helicopter squadrons are temporarily assigned there from 2008 to 2010 while New River Air Station builds the infrastructure to move them over, said Col Darrell Thacker, New River commander.
The accommodations at Cherry Point used by the squadrons of helicopters including CH-53’s, Huey’s, and Cobras will then be used by two squadrons of Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets beginning in 2010 to 2012, he said.
Thacker said it was his understanding that these moves would happen with or without a proposed outlying landing field that the Navy is seeking for pilots to use in practice.
The regional growth is expected to approach 14 percent in five years and is prompt-ing the formation of a coalition of counties to help with planning and getting money to build infrastructure. The coalition includes Craven, Onslow, Carteret, Jones, Pamlico, Pender and Duplin counties.
The coalition is being set up by North Carolina’s Eastern Region, a 13-county economic development group based in Kinston.
Al Delia, director of the group, said the board of North Carolina’s Eastern Region agreed Thursday to appoint a seven-member board to help coordinate the effort to deal with growth. The seven-member board will have one person from each county now thought to be most affected by the Marine build-up.
Delia said he met with officials of the U.S. Office of Economic Assessment 12 days ago and has tentative approval for about $2.5 million to assist in setting up the regional growth group. That money would require a 10 percent local match. Delia said he ex-pects the group to have a director and small staff.
Rep. William Wainwright said after the presentation that he will meet Monday with the speaker of North Carolina House of Representatives to begin steps toward changes that will let state assistance better reflect the military’s economic impact on the whole state.
The effect of military’s impact on the state’s economy is mostly referred to as about $18 billion a year, a number from a study Delia conducted while at East Carolina University. He said Friday that the trends and numbers he has seen in more recent times put his estimate closer to $20 billion.