Editorial: Good news, even from Washington

Jul. 24, 2013 @ 10:04 PM

North Carolina’s economic picture got two pieces of significant news last week, and one was good news mostly dwarfed by the bad.

Most of us heard about the 8.8 percent unemployment, or no change, for the month of June. We also heard about the 11,000 jobs that disappeared.

Strangely enough, it was from inside the Beltway where a ray of sunshine came through. In a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing, Gen. Martin Dempsey and Adm. James Winnefeld confirmed funding for special operations forces are not likely to be reduced.

Dempsey is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Winnefeld the vice chairman.

Spending won’t increase, but word from the brass of no reductions is greatly welcomed. When considering several special operations forces are located at the Marines’ Cherry Point, Camp Lejeune and New River bases that employ about 20,000 civilians, this is very good news to the state’s struggling economy.

Sequestration has been hanging overhead all year. Quadrennial Defense Reviews always are a threat to wipe out a base, or significant portions within it. The employment pocket provided by the bases is invaluable on the other side of Interstate 95, where rural poverty looks similar to the Tri-County.

Cherry Point’s Fleet Readiness Center East is a major maintenance depot for the new F-35B Lightning II aircraft. The new jet is the future, scheduled to replace the AV-8B Harriers, the F/A-18 Hornets and the E/A-6B Prowlers that are the fixed-wing aircraft of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing.

The jet is considered America’s key to maintaining air superiority against rival nations. They’re known for short takeoff and vertical landing. Oh, and the $159 million price tag.

Competition to land the squadron and maintenance was fierce. Cherry Point and FRC East alone create an estimated $2.1 billion impact economically.

So when national defense leaders start talking the future, we’re listening. We’re military-friendly, highly regarded both in the communities where bases are located and throughout the political ranks in Washington.

Statewide, every job is important. When 11,000 disappear in a month, it matters.

And it’s good news when nearly twice that many get a ray of sunshine.