Proposed military cuts could impact Western Massachusetts - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Proposed military cuts could impact Western Massachusetts

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Military downsizing and restructuring proposed by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel could have an effect on communities in Western Massachusetts.

A majority of the manpower cuts would be in the Army, but other branches of the service would be downsized as well.

If numbers were cut at the Air Force bases in Westfield and Chicopee, businesses said they would feel the pinch.

Westfield Mayor Daniel M. Knapik released a statement Tuesday. "While the proposed reductions to the Army that Defense Secretary Hagel laid out yesterday could certainly impact Westfield and the 126th Aviation Regiment, the 126th Brigade Support Battalion and the 104th Fighter Wing, the City of Westfield will not take our foot off the gas on promoting our military in Westfield. They have a significant workforce that contributes greatly to our economy but also in every aspect of our city. It is a great pride in our city to house these units and all the support that is tied to them.

"We will stand side by side with all of the units based in Westfield in any discussion of cuts or potential BRAC, they are too important to the fabric of our community not to help them in any way possible during these difficult years."

Some businesses in Chicopee near Westover Air Reserve Base said they did not rely heavily on military customers. Curry Honda General Manager Howard Sackaroff estimated less than 10 percent of his customers were military members. He said any sort of draw down at the air base would have a "dramatic impact" on the city of Chicopee.

Manager of Lighthouse Liquors Lawrence Miller said about a quarter of his business came from the base and any change in staffing would have an impact.

At Sentry Uniform, manager Kyle Pare said nearly a third of his business was military. He said the store also focused on supplying police, fire and EMS uniforms. Pare said they may have to look at cutting hours or staff and would have to get rid of some inventory if sales dropped too much.

The proposal is still preliminary and it has to be approved by Congress.

The Defense Department was also asking Congress for another round of base realignment and closings or BRAC in 2017.

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