Enhanced Use Lease project continues to thrive 01

Construction crews work on buildings in the Roy Innovation Center at Hill Air Force Base on Feb. 24, 2021.

HILL AIR FORCE BASE — In a year that featured intermittent travel restrictions, closures to a host of on-installation facilities, airmen being required to quarantine for two weeks after deployment, and more — it goes without saying the global pandemic was strongly felt at Hill Air Force Base.

But a new report released this week shows that base’s bottom line withstood a historically tough 2020.

This week, Hill released its 2021 Economic Impact Statement. Compiled by the base’s Cost and Economics Division, the report details Hill’s effect on Utah’s economy over a 12-month period.

According to the report, the base employs more than 5,843 active-duty and reserve Air Force personnel, more than 14,000 civilians and another nearly 2,500 government contractors. Hill’s total federal payroll was $1.44 billion in 2020. Nearly $1.1 billion of the total payroll went to civilian employees, with military personnel earning nearly $348 million.

Hill is Utah’s largest single-site employer, in both total employees and salary paid out.

In 2020, the base spent almost $590 million, which included almost $76 million for construction projects on base and $480 million on locally produced goods and services.

The EIS estimates that work done at Hill creates an additional 22,824 indirect jobs generating about $2.5 billion in payroll and materials expenses. The Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development says the base’s biggest influence on local jobs comes from the aerospace and defense industry.

According to numbers from GOED, Utah’s aerospace industry already makes up a significant piece of the state’s economy, accounting for 944 businesses and 31,390 employees as of the end of 2019, GOED figures show. The sector includes jobs in design, composites manufacturing, software and control systems, testing, and repair and maintenance — all of which support regional and national air service as well as advanced space systems.

The industry is strengthened by several ongoing, long-term programs at Hill.

Hill was selected as the Air Force’s preferred home for the F-35 in December 2013 after a four-year environmental review process. The first two operational F-35As arrived at Hill in September 2015. The base received approximately one to two jets every month until reaching its full fleet of 78 late last year. The wing’s three squadrons — the 4th, 34th and 421st — each have 24 F-35As, with another six backup aircraft stored at the base.

Hill’s Ogden Air Logistics Complex also provides maintenance, modification and repair for the fifth-generation fighter jet as the Air Force’s only depot maintenance facility for the plane. The ALC works on the F-35 for all service branches and some foreign countries that operate it.

In August 2019, Northrop Grumman broke ground on the Roy Innovation Center at Hill, which will serve as future headquarters for Northrop’s work supporting the Department of Defense’s Ground Based Strategic Deterrent program. The center will be located just south of the Hill Aerospace Museum, near Hill’s border with Roy.

According to the Congressional Research Service, the new program will cost more than $80 billion and run for 30 years. The total cost includes the acquisition of missiles, new command and control systems and large-scale renovations of launch control centers. During a budget appropriation hearing last month as part of the 2021 Utah legislative session, Sen. Gregg Buxton, R-Roy, said the program is expected to bring 4,000 jobs to the area.

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