Why it matters: Construction for a new National Guard Readiness Center is expected in Ardmore next year, which will have an impact on the local economy. The National Guard already has a strong presence in the state, which impacts the Oklahoma economy, population, employment and more.
Construction for a brand new, $22 million National Guard Readiness Center is expected to begin in Ardmore next year and bids for the project have a close date of Sept. 2.
“We’re certainly glad they chose Ardmore to construct their new facility,” said Ardmore City Manager JD Spohn. “We will help them in any way we can as they develop the property.”
The city approved a minor subdivision plat earlier this year for the area where the center will be constructed, located at 2355 Cooper Drive. Neighboring companies include Silver Star Construction, Flying J’s, Best Buy Distribution Center and Longhorn Scooters.
The site is nearly 46 acres and will be home to a new Armed Forces Reserve Center and Field Maintenance Shop. The center itself will be more than 80,000 square feet. It will facilitate training for soldiers of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and the United States Army Reserve.
The Field Maintenance Shop, expected to be more than 40,000 square feet, will house the maintenance functions of the Oklahoma Army National Guard.
The project will also include the demolition off-site existing structures at the legacy Ardmore Readiness Center site, according to a bid synopsis of the project.
Spohn said along with the construction of the new facility will come the destruction and reversion of the current National Guard Armory located on Veterans Boulevard. Spohn said the facility has been condemned and deemed “uninhabitable.”
Once the reversion is complete it will be turned over to the city.
Since the project could take several years, Spohn said they have not decided what they will do with the property where the old armory is located, but it is on the city’s radar and they will start thinking about it.
A memorandum of understanding between the Ardmore Development Authority and joint force headquarters for Oklahoma, approved by city commissioners, shows the OKNG has seven years to begin construction and a total of nine years to complete the construction, otherwise the property will revert back to the ADA.
The project bid synopsis shows while the project award is anticipated to be January 2017, the estimated project duration is 18 to 24 months.
The $22 million project will be funded the federal government as part of Military Construction and Veterans Affairs Appropriations legislation. Congressman Tom Cole, R-Oklahoma, said District 4 is already a military-heavy district and the Army makes decisions based on where something like a readiness center will make the most sense.
“First of all, we have a really strong military tradition in the state,” Cole said. “Oklahomans enlist and serve at a higher rate. We have a very robust National Guard.”
A Veterans Center is also located in Ardmore.
While the state is home to five military installations, contributing to about seven percent of the Oklahoma economy, according to Cole, the Oklahoma National Guard itself has a substantial impact on the state’s economy.
According to a 2014 report by Southeastern Oklahoma State University’s Center for Economic and Business Development, the Oklahoma National Guard is expected to continue positively impacting the state economy through 2018.
“The new Ardmore readiness center is projected to hire 18 full-time guardsmen of either AGRs or federal technicians, and 321 part-time drilling members (equal to 46 full-time members) as traditional guardsmen,” the report shows.
As far as population impacts statewide of OKNG, it was estimated the population impact was more than 6,000 people in 2014. By 2018, it was estimated the population would grow to about 10,000 people, according to the report.
“Over the five year time span, average population impact of OKNG is projected to increase 8,406 people per year in the state,” the report says.
According to the report, the predicted sales tax revenue impact stimulated by the OKNG would be more than $6,6 million in 2014 and was expected to increase to more than $8 million by 2018.
“Oklahoma’s sales tax impact is estimated to increase $7.376 million per year on average, accounting for an average yearly increase of 5.2 percent,” the report says.
A full version of the report can be accessed on the State Chamber of Oklahoma’s website at www.okstatechamber.com. The report is listed as a resource on the State Chamber of Oklahoma’s Research Foundation webpage.