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Businesses brace for the loss of a Fort Drum Brigade

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team will be deactivated by fiscal year 2017.
Syracuse (WSYR-TV) - Thousands of soldiers will be leaving Fort Drum as the army implements a massive restructuring plan.

On Tuesday, the Pentagon announced that the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team will be deactivated by fiscal year 2017.

The four remaining brigades on post could grow with additional maneuver battalions, but a net loss of between 1,500 to 2,000 soldiers is expected at the base near Watertown.

Businesses are bracing for an economic ripple effect.

“We see probably between 25 percent and 33 percent of our sales are from Fort Drum. Not just the soldiers, but their families, and support staff and the civilian workers on base,” Ron Whiting with the Fuccillo Automotive Group said.

Jefferson County's Industrial Development Agency had been working with developers to supply new and upgraded housing to help ease a housing shortage for military families in the area. Near the Salmon Run Mall, construction crews were actively working on a new development hours after the Pentagon's announcement.

"Our housing units are in many cases not the best, so we need better units," said Donald Alexander, CEO of the Jefferson County IDA. "Exactly how this will impact that building of those units moving forward remains to be seen."

Fort Drum has been home to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, the Spartans, since 2004. The team deployed to Afghanistan three times, with one more trip expected before the deactivation.

"Any time you lose people who spend money in your economy, you lose the sales tax revenues and sales tax is an important driver for local government, local schools, those types of things," said Alexander.

As the 4th of July approaches, Whiting's shop is displaying "Support our Troops" signs, knowing they have helped support his job too.

"It's going to hurt. It is just a matter of trying to reestablish ourselves with everyone else and see what we can do to try to make up that business," Whiting said.

12 brigades will be deactivated across the country. The restructuring plan is part of the Budget Control Act of 2011.

Army General Ray Odierno warned that sequestration cuts could require the army to reduce it's force by another one hundred thousand soldiers in the future.
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