Nate Delesline III

Work It, Cville

Charlottesville and Albemarle County could see a potential loss of $46.5 million in defense-related spending if federally mandated cuts, which are slated to start next year, come to fruition.

The figures, compiled by the Center for Security Policy and the Coalition for the Common Defense, conservative-leaning Washington, D.C.-based think tanks, are based on publicly available information on Department of Defense contracts compiled and made available online through the Federal Procurement Data System website.

The coalition describes itself as a group of individuals and local and national organizations “committed to the Constitutional imperative to provide for the common defense and returning the United States to sensible fiscal principles without sacrificing its national security.”

The data is reported by fiscal year and does not include grants or loans.

From 2000-2011, more than 14,000 Virginia businesses provided defense-related goods and services, according to a state level report prepared by for the Center for Security Policy.

Based on fiscal year 2011 defense contract date, the estimated reduction in Albemarle County in 2013 would be $43.25 million; in the city, the reduction would be an estimated $3.25 million.

Earlier this year, defense budgets were cut by about $487 billion, an average of a 9 percent cut over a decade. In addition, the reports reflect the impact of sequestration, a 2011 mandate for about $500 billion more in defense spending reductions from 2013-2021, which averages to about an overall 18 percent cut in defense spending.

Published earlier this year, the reports indicate the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions would see the most severe losses if the cuts are fully implemented, while the state overall could lose $7.24 billion in earnings and more than 122,000 jobs.

“There’s no question that Virginia will be the most impacted,” Christine Brim, chief operating officer of the Center for Security Policy told The Daily Progress. “Virginia has the largest amount of defense spending. This is, without a doubt, the state that is the most impacted.”

Furthermore, Brim said the effects go beyond just the financial to the core of Virginia’s identity, history and culture as a state important to America’s defense, character traits that still hold true today.

However, Jeff Caldwell, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, said the state does not yet have any estimates for the effect of sequestration in Virginia.

“With so many variables involved, there is no firm number to delineate that impact on the commonwealth or any particular area,” Caldwell said by email.

Rep. Robert Hurt, R-5th, called the looming cuts “devastating” for his district, which encompasses most of the Charlottesville region.

“The White House and the Senate must join with the House [of Representatives] in addressing this impending crisis so we can keep our military men and women adequately equipped, protect jobs across the 5th District and the Commonwealth, and reduce our national debt in a responsible manner,” Hurt said in a statement.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, whose 7th District encompasses portions of the Charlottesville region, issued an even more sharply worded statement on his website, calling the planned cuts a “dangerous threat” and urging President Obama and Senate Democrats “to take serious action to prevent these arbitrary, devastating cuts from taking place.”

While Brim acknowledged the need and desire to cut federal spending, she said gutting the defense budget would derail America’s recovery from the recession.

That’s because conflict would interrupt trade and commerce and “there would be nothing more costly than having our trade routes disrupted.”

Local leaders, however, were more measured in their assessment of the effect of the cuts on the local economy.

“While our area would be affected by any change in federal spending, the overall impact would be minimal given that defense spending constitutes a small percentage of our overall economy,” Chris Engel, Charlottesville’s economic development director said by email.

Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin said recent reaffirmations of the county’s AAA bond rating in spite of potential defense-related reductions is an indicator of confidence and stability in the local economy.

“However, we are home to several major federal installations and associated defense contractors who are valued and important partners in our economy, so we are concerned about funding uncertainty,” Catlin said by email.

And if the spending cuts do come to pass, Engel expressed confidence that the region’s economy would persevere. “I think our business community has proven itself to be very adaptable in the past and this could be another instance where that trait will be needed,” Engel said.

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