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New Simulator Facility Headed For Niagara Falls Airbase?

10:37 AM, Mar 7, 2012   |    comments
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A C-130 sits inside a hangar at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station.

NIAGARA FALLS, NY- President Obama's 2013 budget includes a big investment in Western New York.

It calls for $6.1 million for a new C-130 simulator facility at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. Last year, Congress set aside an additional $22 million for the project.

A spokesperson for the station says that would mean about a dozen new jobs, and 400 military personnel coming to the area each year for training.

"I think that it's great news to hear that we've been considered and this was the only initiative for Air Force Reserve command in the budget so it's apparently a very important project," says Maj. Andrea Pitruzzella, Chief of Public Affairs for the 914th Airlift Wing.

The fate of the 107th Air National Guard is still uncertain. The Pentagon wants to cancel its mission and take its three planes by 2013. That unit currently employs about 800 people and has a huge economic impact in the community.

"$168 million is not easily replaceable. So it's important to us to keep that mission here," says Hochul. "So we're trying our very best to make the case for an intelligence surveillance mission, a remotely piloted aircraft mission.  There's many others that are out there, cyber security."

Congresswoman Louise Slaughter fought hard to bring the simulator to the Air Base. The following is a statement from her:

"Every dollar that we invest into the Niagara Air Base translates into more jobs and economic opportunity for Western New York, which is why I'm so pleased that the President's budget allocates $6.1 million for a new C-130 simulator," said Slaughter. "This facility is expected to bring 400 military personnel and their dependents to our region annually, which is exactly why I have been fighting for this project. This news couldn't come at a better time for the thousands of employees who rely on the Niagara Air Base.

"Every dollar that we invest into the Niagara Air Base translates into more jobs and economic opportunity for Western New York, which is why I'm so pleased that the President's budget allocates $6.1 million for a new C-130 simulator," said Slaughter. "This facility is expected to bring 400 military personnel and their dependents to our region annually, which is exactly why I have been fighting for this project. This news couldn't come at a better time for the thousands of employees who rely on the Niagara Air Base. 

"Every dollar that we invest into the Niagara Air Base translates into more jobs and economic opportunity for Western New York, which is why I'm so pleased that the President's budget allocates $6.1 million for a new C-130 simulator," said Slaughter. "This facility is expected to bring 400 military personnel and their dependents to our region annually, which is exactly why I have been fighting for this project. This news couldn't come at a better time for the thousands of employees who rely on the Niagara Air Base.
 

 

"In the age of tight budgets, I believe we must do everything we can to reduce spending and stretch the value of a dollar wherever possible.  Like American families across the region, we must make difficult spending decisions, but being good stewards of hard earned taxpayer dollars doesn't mean blindly cutting budgets. I'm pleased that the budget introduced today looks to invest in programs that will help rebuild our local economy."

The following is a statement from Congresswoman Kathy Hochul following the release of President Obama's 2013 budget Monday:

"Yesterday, the President unveiled a budget that included $6.1 million for a new simulator facility at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station. This proposal is a victory for Western New York and a positive step in our continued efforts to protect and strengthen the base. By investing in NFARS, the President has indicated that our installation remains a critical component to our national and regional security.

"I applaud Congresswoman Slaughter for her efforts to bring the simulator to the base. While this is a positive development for Western New York and NFARS, I will continue to work with the local delegation to ensure that the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station remains a vital part of both our military and local economy."

The more missions and military personnel at the base, the healthier the Niagara Falls economy, says Mayor Paul Dyster. Average citizens don't even realize the spin-off effect, like more growth at the Niagara Fall international Airport due to low landing fees.

"The reason those landing fees are so low is because a good portion of the maintenance of the runway and other essential facilities at the airport is covered by the military," says Dyster.

Congress still needs to approve the president's budget proposal before the simulator comes here. The Niagara Military Affairs Council lobbies in Washington on behalf of the airbase and Dyster says he'll be asking the city council to set aside $40,000 so NIMAC can ramp up its efforts through the budget process and possibly the next round of BRAC. Dyster says the Niagara County Legislature has already approved funding for NIMAC.

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