In late 2007, the U.S. Congress mandated an increase of 28,000 personnel to the US Marine Corps' active duty end strength in response to the deployment demands of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Eastern North Carolina's share of that growth was projected to be approximately 11,477 new jobs at its Marine Corps installations. In addition to the planned Marine Corps growth, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base received BRAC-directed growth of about 1,200 personnel--a near 25% increase in that installation's workforce.
As a result of both of these actions, military job growth within the Eastern Region has been close to 17,000 new positions. This represents the largest single job growth event in North Carolina since World War II.
Reacting to the announcement, North Carolina's Eastern Region - in partnership with the nine surrounding counties that would be most affected by the impacts - formed the Military Growth Task Force (MGTF). The task force consists of representatives from Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico, Pender and Wayne counties.
The mission of the MGTF is to comprehensively analyze community impacts from the unanticipated growth event and to develop regional responses to those impacts. Beginning in 2008, the MGTF formed working groups of subject matter experts in several functional areas. This "all-volunteer army" of 250 stakeholders conducted hundreds of workshops around the region and completed data-driven reports that inventoried impacts and recommended mitigating actions for the affected communities.
Their cumulative report is entitled the Regional Growth Management Plan (RGMP). This comprehensive 800-page plan is broken down into the functional areas of Housing, Transportation, Infrastructure, Health Care, Education, Quality of Life, Emergency Services and Workforce Development. The first section provides a broad regional overview and the second section consists of follow-on county (local) modules. The RGMP can be downloaded by module from this website.
Following the release of this final report in late 2009, the MGTF set its sights on implementing the plan. Of the 467 recommendations in the report, about 10% offer solutions to correct shortfalls with one particular action. For example, the highway accident rate in Jacksonville, NC, can be immediately reduced through the implementation of an intelligent traffic system around Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune's main gate.
The remaining 90% of the recommendations are vastly more complex and require regional collaboration. Because there was no existing regional entity configured to tackle this latter category of tasks, the MGTF decided in early 2010 to create a forum of subject matter experts from across the planning spectrum into one unified regional planning partnership – That forum is now known as PlanIt EAST.
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