Potential Economic Impacts of the Proposed Alachua County U.S. Army Reserve Equipment Concentration Site (ECS)
In August of 2019, the Alachua County Commission announced that the County Fairgrounds and the Alachua County Cooperative Extension Offices would permanently relocate to the Alachua County Agricultural and Equestrian Center (23100 W. Newberry Road, Newberry) – formerly known as the Canterbury Equestrian Showplace. The county government of Alachua County, Florida (“the County”) is now exploring potential uses of the existing Fairgrounds Redevelopment Area, an approximately 112 acre property located in the northeast part of the County, near the Gainesville Regional Airport. In collaboration with the United States (U.S.) Army Reserve’s 81st Readiness Division, the County seeks to convert the Fairgrounds Redevelopment Area into an Equipment Concentration Site (ECS).
The 81st Readiness Division is one of four Readiness Divisions throughout the U.S., each responsible for providing support and services to Army Reserve units throughout a specific geographic footprint. The 81st Readiness Division, headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, provides support to over 200 Army Reserve units throughout the entire Southeast and Puerto Rico. The proposed ECS will feature roughly 94 thousand square feet of building space divided between a high-bay equipment repair shop, warehouses and storage buildings, and administrative offices. It is expected that the administrative offices will occupy a 40,000 square foot building, which includes a supervisor’s office, two administrative offices, one classroom, one vault, one break room, and one special purpose room. Additionally, the 30,000 square foot high-bay equipment repair shop is comprised of maintenance bays, special purpose rooms, a tool room, a supply room, a small arms repair room with vault, an electronics repair room, a production control room, a break room, and supervisor offices. The remaining areas will serve as warehouse and storage space. The budget for construction and development of this new facility is $36 million and, if approved by Congress, will be funded by the U.S. Army.
The ECS is an entirely civilian operation. It is expected that this new facility will employ around 60 individuals, a majority of which are federal government employees. For obvious reasons, a majority of the personnel are expected to be mechanics, but the site will also employ motor vehicle operators, logistics and administrative personnel, tools and parts specialists, and supervisors. Expected compensation rates will range from a minimum of $21-22 per hour plus full federal benefits to salaries of close to $60,000 per year. The benefits package for federal employees typically includes paid vacation, earned sick leave, health care, and military leave. Expected total payroll for the site is estimated at $2.8 million to $3.0 million per year.
Short-term economic impacts of the construction phase were estimated to be 469 job-years, $63.40 million in industry output (sales revenues), $36.15 million in total value added (GDP), and $24.02 million in labor income. Total economic impacts of the operation and maintenance phase were estimated at 110 fulltime and part-time job-years, $6.29 million in labor income or earnings, $8.46 million in total value added or GDP, and $13.42 million in industry output or revenues. The accuracy of the results will depend on how closely the actual construction and operation and maintenance activity levels come to those estimated by the 81st Readiness Division. It is also worth noting that these estimates are based on inter-industry relationships within Alachua County and the State of Florida as they existed in 2018. The extent to which the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) associated with SARS-CoV2 and the economic impacts of measures enacted to mitigate its spread changes these relationships is currently unknown.
Suggested Citation: Court, Christa D. and J. Ferreira. “Potential Economic Impacts of the Proposed Alachua County U.S. Army Reserve Equipment Concentration Site (ECS).” Economic Impact Analysis Program, University of Florida-IFAS, Food & Resource Economics Department, Gainesville, FL, May 2020.