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Minnesota National Guard
148th Air National Guard Faces Changes with Active Association

By KBJR News 1
March 28, 2012

DULUTH, MN (Northland's NewsCenter)---The 148th Air National Guard Fighter Wing in Duluth is facing some significant changes

Today, the Commander of the 148th addressed how adding active duty associates to the community and the potential loss of the military 24-hour alert service, could impact the region

The 148th fighter wing is the ninth-largest employer in the Duluth region and historically generates about $90 million for the area economy each year

"We are the military connection locally," Colonel Frank Stokes said "That's one of the great things about the guard, is we do connect the military to homeland America"

Col Stokes says impending changes to the air guard will make that connection even stronger

The active association designation is expected to initially bring in about 50 new personnel and nearly $5 million in economic impact

"Those folks will live in Duluth, they will shop in your shops and go to your schools," he said

Col Stokes says the region can easily accommodate up to 100 more workers

"We may look at some additional development housing that will be close to the air force base that can accommodate," Mike Lundstrom of the Hermantown Chamber of Commerce said "So they can take advantage of proximity but also area resources"

On the down side, the 148th is looking at the strong possibility that it will lose its 24-hour alert mission That would mean a loss of up to 70 jobs

But community leaders believe the 148th is still strongly positioned for the future

"With what's happening with military bases in the United States and across the world with retraction, we are still sitting at a very-very good position," he said "Not only with active association but with the F-50 Block Airplanes we received recently"

The Fighter Wing is expected to find out whether it will lose is 24-hour alert mission this fall or winter

The 148th Fighter Wing currently employs 450 full time people and more than 1000 part time employees

Jennifer Walch
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