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Air Force says Utah, Hill Air Force Base tops for military families

By Mitch Shaw standard-Examiner - | Sep 8, 2020

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — According to a new report from the Air Force, Utah is likely the best place for a military family to be stationed, especially in the areas of public education and the ability for non-military family members to continue their careers.

According to the Air Force’s “Support of Military Family” report, Hill Air Force Base, Wright Air National Guard Base in Salt Lake City, and Minnesota’s Minneapolis-St. Paul Air Reserve Station ranked as the top three Air Force installations for the quality of public education and “license portability,” which essentially takes into account how well professional licenses obtained in other states transfer to new areas.

The report says career sustainability for military spouses and education for their children can significantly influence a military member’s decision on reenlisting when their service contract is up. The study evaluated public education based on academic performance, school climate and service offerings — looking at current state policies and programs designed to eliminate barriers to license portability for military spouses. The Air Force used a variety of metrics from 2019 to rank installations in the two categories.

Kelsey Price, director of communications and marketing for the Utah Department of Veterans and Military Affairs, said Utah was one of the first states in the nation to pass a comprehensive military spouse licensing exemption. During its 2018 general session, the Utah Legislature passed a bill that enables spouses with a license from another state to obtain a job in Utah using their existing credentials.

According to the Utah VA website, the exemption applies to more than 80 professions regulated by the Department of Commerce Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing.

In a statement, Utah Governor Gary Herbert said the report validates the state’s effort to entice the Department of Defense to station some of its highest priority workload here. As an example of that effort, the state provided a tax incentive package earlier this year to Northrop Grumman to help convince the aerospace and defense company to expand in Northern Utah. Herbert’s Office of Economic Development announced in January that Northrop will add up to 2,250 jobs and $380 million in capital investment over the next two decades, as part of DoD’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program.

Northrop, which is currently the largest security and defense company in Utah with more than 5,100 employees across the state, primarily located in Clearfield, Ogden, Promontory and Salt Lake, will be eligible to earn back 30% of the new state taxes they will pay as part of a 20-year agreement with the state.

The state expects the expansion to bring in nearly $200 million in new tax revenues. The tax credit rebate would be capped at $59.9 million, according to GOED, with Northrop receiving a portion of the total each year it meets the criteria in its contract with the state.

“We look forward to continuing to grow the military and defense missions in Utah,” Herbert said.

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