The North Carolina Defense Summit 2022 kicks off in Raleigh on Tuesday morning for a morning of networking, panel discussions, and keynote addresses on a variety of topics from quality of life for military families, legislative initiatives, and energy resilience, to name a few.
Ahead of the event, WRAL TechWire spoke with Etteinne “ET” Mitchell, the chair of the NC Military Affairs Commission strategic working group and a member of the Craven County Board of Commissioners, about what to expect.
A lightly edited transcript follows.
IMPACT OF MILITARY ON NC ECONOMY
WRAL TechWire (TW): Folks in the Triangle and across North Carolina are impacted by our state’s defense sector and military. Can you explain how?
Etteinne “ET” Mitchell (Mitchell): While many in Raleigh and Wake County may feel separated from the military and its operations because they aren’t near a major base, the truth is, they are impacted by the military every day without even realizing it. The military’s presence in North Carolina extends past recognized bases and host communities. Its impact reaches all 100 of North Carolina’s counties.
In fact, the military and defense sector is the second-largest contributor to our state’s economy, generating $66 billion in economic activity each year.
Our military protects our lifestyle, our job choices and our favorite places. Its presence here is integral to the success of the state’s economic health, and it impacts the lifestyle available to every resident.
From the jobs available to keeping the doors of our favorite local restaurants open, the impact of NC’s military on the economy plays a large part in making that happen.
OTHER ECONOMIC IMPACT
TW: Seems like the sector plays a critical role in our economy, whether from direct contribution to our economy, or through additional innovation and research, or from those who transition from military service to professional roles for private sector businesses. What’s the best way for North Carolinians to think about the impact of the military on the state’s economy and the trajectory of the state’s economy, right now?
Mitchell: You’re correct. Our military does more than protect our freedoms. It brings more than 578,000 jobs to our state. North Carolina’s military installations alone employ over 140,000 North Carolinians – 15% of whom are civilians.
A relatable way to look at and understand our military’s impact is this:
With nearly 850,000 active military members, veterans and their families who call the Tar Heel state their home, the majority of them are between the ages of 18 and 54.
They are a critical component to North Carolina’s economy, lifestyle offerings and even our workforce, as an estimated 20,000 service members transition out of North Carolina’s military every year, ready for employment.
And, with a highly technical background in a cutting-edge STEM environment, veterans are suited for more than 100 civilian specialty jobs right here in Research Triangle Park.
TW: What are the biggest issues facing the military and defense community, right now?
Mitchell: One of the largest issues we’re facing is the lack of knowledge about the significant impact the military has on the state of North Carolina.
The military and defense sector is the second-largest contributor to North Carolina’s economy, producing about 13% of all goods and services in North Carolina, second only to farms and agribusiness each year.
Unfortunately, most North Carolinians don’t know about the specific ways the military benefits everyone across the state.
In a representative survey conducted by the North Carolina Military Affairs Commission (NCMAC) in December 2021, 800 North Carolinians from across the state were surveyed about their knowledge of the military’s impact on North Carolina.
We learned that 90% of respondents held a positive view of the military in North Carolina but that patriotism wasn’t tied to knowledge of the greater impact the military has on the state in terms of economic vitality and the quality of life North Carolinians have come to expect.
Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire