To improve their economic and workforce development efforts in response to the loss of a brigade combat team at Fort Campbell in 2014, officials from six counties in Kentucky and Tennessee surrounding the post are discussing ways to strengthen collaboration.
One of the principal goals of the alliance — tentatively being called Campbell Strong — is to retain a greater number of soldiers who separate from the Army, reported the Leaf Chronicle.
“We are gathering information about what assets we have [as a group] to keep soldiers here,” said Stewart County (Tenn.) Mayor Rick Joiner.
Last year, the local governments neighboring Fort Campbell received a grant from DOD’s Office of Economic Adjustment to help the region address the impact of the brigade’s inactivation, which resulted in the loss of about 2,500 soldiers. The grant is funding initiatives focusing on:
unifying the six counties as a defense alliance for the purpose of economic development;
assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the region’s workforce and crafting a workforce development strategy;
developing an asset map for the region; and
promoting entrepreneurship, particularly among personnel separating from Fort Campbell.
When the study is completed later this year, the group will apply for funds to implement the plans. Retaining departing soldiers could benefit the region in multiple ways. Local agencies could look to transitioning personnel to fill a shortage in emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
“A transitioning soldier might already have some medical skills, and with some training, they could be certified,” said John Watz, vice president for strategic planning and development for Workforce Essentials, which is supporting the counties’ effort to expand collaboration. “And if they like the rural lifestyle here, he or she might want to come and work here,” Watz said.
Workforce Essentials is in the initial stages of working with Montgomery County, Tenn., and the military to expedite some post-military training for soldiers in medical specialties. The aim is to build the “talent connection” between local communities and the installation, Watz said.
“There’s an untapped pipeline that we need to put more of our workforce effort into, and that’s the soldiers coming out of Fort Campbell,” he told the Chronicle.