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Madison County leads Department of Defense spending in Alabama

The Department of Defense released defense spending for Fiscal Year 2019, and the amount of money spent in Alabama produced no real surprises in many of the categories tracked by the Local Defense Community Cooperation (OLDCC) — formerly the Office of Economic Adjustment.

Madison County, home to the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal, dominated many of the categories. The best way to describe Madison County’s share of DoD spending in Alabama is with the “B” word – billions.

“It comes as no surprise that Redstone Arsenal is the economic engine that drives not only Madison County’s economy but the entire north Alabama region,” said Madison County Commission Chairman Dale Strong. “The continued growth and development of Redstone and the many agencies on this federal campus, as well as the corporations that support these agencies, is paramount to the success of our regional economy.”

However, Strong points out that Redstone’s role in global affairs is also a crucial element of protecting America’s vitality and fortunes.

“The specific missions that exist at Redstone assures that our nation keeps America prepared against our enemies both domestic and abroad. You can’t put a price on defending our freedom and security,” he stated.

Madison County led the state with $9.2 billion in defense contract spending during FY19. That places Madison County as one of the highest totals in DoD spending in the United States — seventh, to be exact. A Dallas suburb, Tarrant, is number one with $17.6 billion.

Others in the top 10 were: 2) Fairfax, Va. with $17.4 billion 3) San Diego with $14 billion 4) Los Angeles with $13.1 billion 5) St. Louis $10.5 billion 6) Dallas had $9.3 billion followed by Huntsville. Hartford, Conn. was No. 8 with $8.5 billion, King County, Washington was 9th with DoD contracts totaling $8.3 billion and Jefferson County, Ky. rounded out the top 10 with $7.5 billion.

Breaking down those numbers and looking at how the Department of Defense dollars flow into Alabama shows the money is spread around several communities across the state.

The top 10 Alabama counties in defense contract spending for FY19, compared to FY18 figures, were:

1) Madison – $9.2 billion, up $400 million
2) Mobile – $1.5 billion, up $100 million
3) Dale – $857.2 million, up $61.8 million
4) Montgomery – $269.7 million, up $8.11 million
5) Calhoun – $269 million, up $98.5 million
6) Limestone – $94.2 million, up $18.33 million
7) Talladega – $87.3 million, up $8.6 million
8) Jefferson – $71.3 million, down $6 million
9) Marshall – – $48.4 million (not ranked top 10 in 2018)
10) Dallas – $41 million (not ranked top 10 in 2018)

Despite the dominance of Madison County in DoD contract spending, the largest defense contractor during 2019 was located in Mobile County. That would be Austal USA with contracts valued at $1.4 billion. Austal is a global ship builder and defense contractor with capabilities in military and commercial vessels.

Austal USA announced last year it is expanding the capacity and capability of its Alabama shipyard. The company is looking ahead to future business in unmanned, amphibious shipbuilding programs.

Austal is followed closely by The Boeing Company with $1.3 billion in contracts. Key programs underway in Huntsville include Ground-based Midcourse Defense; PAC-3 Missile Seeker and other missile defense systems; the Minuteman III Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM); NASA’s heavy-lift Space Launch System; and the International Space Station.

Other top contractors in Alabama include Northrop Grumman, M1 Support Services, SAIC, Torch Technologies, Lockheed Martin, Science and Engineering Services, KBR and Parson Corp.

The report also documented the top defense personnel locations within Alabama. Montgomery and Dale Counties have the largest concentrations of active-duty personnel in Alabama.

Dale County, home to the Army’s Fort Rucker, has 3,837 active personnel to lead the state. Dale also has 2,180 Army civilian employees plus 52 Guardsmen and 146 in the Reserves for a total of 6,215 DoD personnel, ranking Dale County third in Alabama for total DoD employees.

Montgomery County ranked second in front of Dale County with 3,161 active-duty personnel, mostly at Maxwell Air Force base. Add 3,185 Army civilian employees, 2,686 National Guardsmen and 2,220 Reserves and Montgomery County has 11,252 DoD.

Meanwhile, the makeup of the personnel at Madison County’s Redstone Arsenal shows 727 active-duty employees, 461 in the national Guard and 776 in the Reserves. However, Redstone also has 13,767 Army civilian workers. That provides a total of 15,731 DoD personnel putting Madison County in the top spot for DoD personnel.

The top 10 Alabama counties in DoD personnel spending in FY19 and compared to FY18:

1) Madison – $1.6 billion, up $100 million
2) Montgomery – $629.7 million, up $29.8 million
3) Dale – $439 million, up $11.2 million
4) Calhoun – $264.2 million, up $26.7 million
5) Jefferson – $156.1 million, down $2.8 million
6) Mobile – $933.2 million, up $2.3 million
7) Coffee – $14.9 million, down $700,000
8) Tuscaloosa – $14.1 million, down $1.2 million
9) Houston – $13.6 million, down $8.7 million
10) Lee – $12.8 million, down $3.6 million

Ray Garner is a contributing writer to Yellowhammer News.