Diamondhead Officials Appointed to Committees to Strengthen Military Support

July 11, 2016

During the July 5th meeting of the Diamondhead City Council, Mayor Tommy Schafer and Mayor Pro Temp Ernie Knobloch were appointed to the Policy Committee for the NAVAL CONSTRUCTION BATTALION CENTER (NCBC) JOINT LAND USE STUDY (JLUS).  The Policy Committee is comprised of elected officials and representatives from public organizations that will approve the final JLUS Plan, including the strategic measures for implementation, before the plan is presented to each governing body for adoption.

Clovis Reed, Diamondhead City Manager, will represent the City on the Stakeholder Committee.  This committee is charged with providing information on community development and regulations, and engaging in the discussion of potential implementation strategies to strengthen the relationship between the civilian communities and the military commands.

Elaine Wilkinson, Executive Director of Gulf Regional Planning Commission who is sponsoring and administering the study said that the Department of Defense has approved two grants to develop two studies.  One is for Keesler Air Force Base and a second is for the Naval Construction Battalion Center, which has a direct connection to the Navy at Stennis.

“The intent of these studies is to strengthen the relationship between military installations and civilian communities by discussing the active and planned military missions associated with the base and the growth and development of the community in proximity to these operations,” she said.

The two studies will address the primary military operations conducted on the coast, such as training and combat/deployment readiness in parts of Harrison, Hancock and Pearl River Counties.  Recommendations of the two studies may include improving communications between the base and community.  It will also look at how military and civilian practices may be able to be improved to provide for additional facilities or services to promote future growth and development by the base and the communities it surrounds.  The study may also make recommendations to adopt policies and practices that protect and enhance the stability of the military missions and the quality of life for the community.

“Stennis is a major contributor to the Gulf Coast economies of Mississippi and Louisiana, spending almost three-quarters ($.74) of every dollar within the four county/parish 50 mile radius,” said Mayor Schafer.

Schafer says Stennis is also responsible for contributing more than $1.06 billion to the economies of the region that includes Hancock, Harrison and Pearl River Counties in Mississippi and St. Tammany Parish in Louisiana.  With close to 90% of all of the 5,100 employees residing in the region with an average salary of $93,000, business and government leaders are committed to preserving and expanding activities at this unique Federal city.

City Manager Clovis Reed says this study is critical to Diamondhead’s economic development strategy.

“We want to invite more people who work at Stennis and other military installations across the Coast to look at Diamondhead as a community of choice to live and retire here,” he said.  “That is one of the reasons why we launched a new brand, logo, website and social media platforms to effectively communicate that message to new resident prospects and business investors,” he said.

“There is no doubt that Stennis Space Center is one of the most important economic assets we have in the two state region,” said Councilman at Large Ernie Knobloch.  “We want to be sure that Diamondhead is at the table to protect these military assets and work together to grow the economic opportunities that can be derived through a strong partnership with the community,” he said.

Officials from Diamondhead will join other governmental and private sector leaders from across the Coast to participate in this study, which is expected to take up to two years to complete.

Information on this study will be the main topic at the next quarterly meeting of Partners for Stennis Space Center at Aerojet Rocketdyne at Stennis Space Center on Wednesday, August 17th at 3pm.  If you have been considering joining Partners and would like to attend the meeting to learn more about these studies, go to www.partnersforstennis.org to register or email sally@hancockchamber.org or call 228-467-9048.