JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST (WPVI) --New Jersey's second-largest employer is getting an extended lease on life now that the Air Force picked it to host its next generation of air refueling tankers, officials said Thursday.
Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will receive 24 KC-46 Pegasus tankers to replace its current fleet of 32 KC-10 Extenders.
"I think it's great for the area, great for the base. It means the base will be cemented here for at least another 20 or 25 years," said Mayor Tom Harper (R-N.J.).
Sen. Bob Menendez tweeted the great news, saying the tankers are critical to national security and the local economy.
"It's job security for me, but as far as the income and the economy around here, I think it would benefit because, like I said, a lot of the small businesses around here benefit from us being here," said TSgt. Ray Hillsberry, US Air Force Reserves.
"I work at that sewer treatment plant on base, and knowing the base will be open for a long time is positive for me," said Josh Lucas, Joint Base employee.
The joint base was vying to bring the KC-46s here because without them the future looked dim.
With 40,000 military and civilian employees contributing more than $7 billion annually to New Jersey's economy, keeping the base vital is pivotal to the area.
Arlene Treacy owns a tattoo shop in Cookstown and thinks the new mission for the base will help business.
"The locals are really dependent on the military. I know a large percentage of my clientele is military and now that they've turned it into a joint base, it's actually enhanced our business," said Arlene Treacy, Ink Obsession.
"It's a very big deal for South Jersey, especially every surrounding town around the base I would think. New Hanover, Browns Mills, everybody," said John Mara of Browns Mills, New Jersey.
"It means a lot, especially for the townships that are surrounding. The base does bring in a lot of money, they bring in a lot of people and that's great for the economy and surrounding area," said Chris Parker, joint base housing contractor.