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FY 2015 Defense Spending By State report now available for download.

Military contracts haul in $6.5B to Bay County since 2000

PANAMA CITY — Defense contractors' work typically proceeds within the shadow of the military at large, but that behind-the-scenes work is quietly bringing billions of dollars to the area.

Their wide-ranging work — repairing boats and improving bomb detection at airports, for starters — has steered $6.5 billion to Bay County for over 8,500 contracts from 2000 to 2015, according to information supplied by the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) at Gulf Coast State College.

And those jobs tend to pay higher salaries and better benefits than the local average, along with sustaining dozens of local businesses and bringing in workers from out-of-town giants like Lockheed Martin. Together, the businesses focus on work that frees up the military to do its primary job: protecting the country.

Defense contractors are primarily private businesses whose main focus is contracting with the government to provide needed services. Within Bay County are 429 contractors, according to recent contract records. Of those, 13 belong to the Bay County Chamber of Commerce, where some have been members since the 1980s. Some contractors work mostly with local bases, while others also contract outside the county.

What they have in common is making life easier on local military installations.

At Applied Research Associates (ARA) in downtown Panama City, that help comes in the form of explosives testing, printing posters, editing instructional videos and other ongoing projects for the Air Force Civil Engineer Center (AFCEC) at Tyndall Air Force Base.

"AFCEC uses a team of active-duty members, civilians and contractors to accomplish our various missions in support of the Air Force and our nation," said AFCEC public relations official Deborah Aragon. "In many instances, our contractors provide the intellectual capital to perform technical assistance, research, development, test and evaluation to meet our objectives."

Contractors greatly supplement the military because they can lend specific skills as needed, said Glen McDonald, ARA's senior vice president and Gulf Coast sector manager. Those specific skills help fill a capability gap, providing instant knowledge that could require years of training for the military.

Read the complete article here.

The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.