Hillsborough County Commissioner Al Higginbotham, District 4, spearheaded the effort for the Board of County Commissioners to pass a resolution to support MacDill Air Force Base and the “MacDill Means Mobility” initiative at the regular board meeting on Wednesday, June 6.
Higginbotham is planning to personally deliver the resolution today to the Hillsborough Congressional Delegation at a reception in Washington D.C., sponsored by the Tampa Chamber of Commerce.
The“MacDill Means Mobility” initiative is a community-led effort to encourage the Pentagon and the Air Force to direct new refueling jets, the KC-46A, to the MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa.
On Monday, June 4, Higginbotham joined Congresswoman Kathy Castor, Congressman Rich Nugent, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn and other local economic development and community leaders to urge the support of MacDill as the home base for the new planes.
MacDill is home to 16 KC-135 Stratotankers and the 927th Air Refueling Wing and the 6th Air Mobility Wing. The Air Force plans to gradually phase out the stratotanker and phase in the new KC-46A, which will be sent to three initial bases - two operational bases and a training base. The Air Force is expected to pare down the list of candidate bases to 10 this summer, with the final decision made by winter of 2013. The new planes are estimated to be delivered by Boeing in 2017.
As the commissioner appointed to serve on the Tampa Chamber of Commerce MacDill Air Force Base Support Committee, Higginbotham has been building economic development opportunities through military operations for the Tampa Bay area. Among other efforts, he introduced the 927th Air Refueling Wing leadership to Plant City for the Strawberry Festival Parade Day, and recently hosted a luncheon with local retired generals to discuss opportunities for military in Tampa. Additionally, since being elected in 2006, he has not missed a funeral in Hillsborough County for a local soldier killed in action.
“MacDill Air Force Base has been a long-standing source of pride for Hillsborough County and the entire Tampa Bay area,” said Higginbotham.“Our military protects and defends us abroad and it’s the least we can do to support them on the home front.”
Established in 1939, MacDill Air Force Base has an estimated $2.87 billion impact to theTampa Bay area, providing more than 7,600 indirect jobs to area residents. Additionally, military retirees within 50 miles of the base contribute an additional $2.1 billion to the economy, supporting an additional more than 23,000 indirect jobs.