“It’s one of, if not the top, economic driver we have,” said Houston County Commission Chairman Mark Culver.
Parts of the Wiregrass economy thrive on Fort Rucker. Their military base gives a financial boost of $1 billion per year.
Thursday night, Dothan Area Chamber of Commerce and city officials networked with Fort Rucker's top commanders. Those nights are about building bonds
“Our relationship with them as friends, as neighbors, families that are part of their community, that are part of our community,” explained Mark Saliba, President of Dothan Chamber of Commerce.
There are 20,000 active people on base during the day. It includes military members, civilian employees, and families. Dothan sees the financial impact through payroll, contractors, and more.
“Retail. They shop here, they live here, they do business here, so it's a major impact. And it's solid jobs. It's good paying jobs, which is good for our community,” said Mayor Mike Schmitz for the city of Dothan.
Commanding General Kevin Mangum said Fort Rucker's accomplishments are reflected in Dothan's community.
“This last year Fort Rucker was awarded the only Community of Excellence Gold Award, the only one in the army, as well as the Commander in Chief of Excellence. A lot of that we attribute to the great support here we get from the wiregrass, at large in Dothan, in particular,” he said.
Thursday's reception did more than sharpen relationships.
“Most importantly, they're part of our nation's defense. We owe them a great debt of gratitude and everything we can do to show that appreciation, we should do,” said Culver.
“People can talk the talk. Folks in Dothan are walking the walk,” said General Mangum.
Walking the walk, despite furloughs and budget cuts, to help these neighbors remain allies.