What if I told you right now, we plan to bring in a new company that will continually add $26.9 million into our local payroll every single month? What if we then told you their payroll dollars would increase annually, and a good portion of those dollars are available to the employees as disposable income. I’m sure each one of you would be excited and ready to welcome them with open arms.
Here’s the truth. It already exists. Did you know that as of 2018, 35,956 veterans call Montgomery County home and of those, well over 16,240 receive VA compensation and/or pensions? I’m not talking about active duty or government salary either, just compensation or pensions. That adds up to $323,344,000 every year, or over $26.9 million a month, deposited into bank accounts across Clarksville - Montgomery County.
In the past five years, there has been an increase in Montgomery County-based veteran population by 9,066 and with a dollar increase by more than $98.6 million. Just to put that into perspective, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2018 our entire manufacturing base in Montgomery County had an annual payroll of a little more than $313,364,000.
It’s a fact that the Veteran community is absolutely critical to the health and growth of our local economy.
One of our missions here at the EDC, Chamber of Commerce, Industrial Development Board and Conventions and Visitor’s Bureau is ensuring we are creating a quality of place that separating soldiers will embrace as home. It’s not just about finding potential employment when they choose to retire or ETS, it about creating a sense of belonging and offering goods and services that align with their wants and needs. One of the many benefits of living in Clarksville-Montgomery County is that income can go further. Our cost of living is so attractive. When we add to that our desire to be the most patriotic and veteran-friendly place to live, we only continue to enhance our appeal to those making the decision where to settle.
I know our community has a lot of pride when we speak about our veterans. I also believe they are beginning to notice the initiatives we are moving forward on to support them. If you look at the four-year trajectory of growth shown by the VA, there are no signs that the veteran population will stop choosing Clarksville-Montgomery County as home. It is our duty, as a community, to continue moving forward on quality retail, dining and amenity growth. I don’t like to think about anyone leaving our great community and spending any of those disposable income dollars elsewhere. I completely understand the appeal of communities just a short drive away but know that we can keep the majority of those dollars here with continued effort. I also think about how our local leaders are working together to continually improve quality of life options right here at home and know this effort must continue as well.
As we move into the second half of 2019, I want to encourage every Clarksville – Montgomery County citizen to recognize the importance of Veterans in our community, region and state. We are truly surrounded by heroes; they stand next to us in line at the grocery and coach our kids on the soccer field. It is impossible to thank them properly for everything they have done to protect our freedoms as well as support our local community, but we MUST strive every day to continually create a place that makes our nation’s heroes feel like this is their forever home.