No. 7: Jacksonville, N.C.
- By Nick Wakeman
- Nov 21, 2007
The bond between the community in Jacksonville, N.C., and nearby Camp
Lejuene has always been close, but the connection became more meaningful
after the Beirut bombing in 1983 killed 241 Marines. Nearly all of them were
based at the Marine Corps facility in eastern North Carolina.
"There was a real outreach from the community," said Jim Reichardt,
director of the economic development office for Onslow County, N.C. "People
wanted to make sure that the friends and family of the fallen Marines were well
cared for. ... That spirit and bond has just grown stronger. You feel it almost
The community built a memorial to honor the dead, and a Marine Corps
museum also is in the works, he said.
Camp Lejuene is the major driver of business in the area known for its fishing,
rural lifestyle and close proximity to the North Carolina coast. The Bureau
of Economic Analysis put the number of military and civilian jobs in the area at
48,025 in 2005, with about 43,000 of those being military jobs.
As the current Base Realignment and Closure round moves forward, the military
jobs should increase by about 11,500, Reichardt said. Another 4,000 in
civilian jobs also will move to the area. After families are included, as many as
25,000 more people will begin moving to the area next year.
In addition, a $1.5 billion construction initiative at Camp Lejuene may double
during the next five years, he said.
Supporting the Marines on base are large contractors such as BAE Systems
Inc.; Eagan, McAlister Associates Inc.; General Dynamics Corp.; L-3
Communications Titan Group; Northrop Grumman Corp.; and Science
Applications International Corp.
A plus for many contractors is that about 6,000 Marines a year end their
enlistments, and many want to stay in the area, creating a steady pool of new
employees, Reichardt said.
"A lot of defense companies are looking at us in part because of the workforce,"
he said. "We have a lot of healthy, intelligent young people."