By DAN GUZEWICH Staff writer
The state has hired a Washington-based lobbying firm to help head off or at least blunt possible military installation mission reductions across the state, like the Air Force Research Laboratory at Griffiss.
Washington-based Hyjek & Fix Inc. was awarded the bid to lobby on New York’s behalf with the military. The firm will help the state in the development a strategy for the retention and growth of military bases as major economic contributors. The firm has considerable experience with the federal base realignment process.
Federal spending cuts could impact facilities like Griffiss’ Rome Lab, Defense Finance and Accounting Service center and Eastern Air Defense Sector. The Pentagon has proposed base realignment and consolidation rounds in 2013 and 2015.
Mohawk Valley EDGE worked with the firm during the 2005 BRAC round, which resulted in a substantial workforce gain at the DFAS center, and was hired through Griffiss Local Development Corp. prior to BRAC 2005 to assist in securing approval of a military construction appropriation to match state funding for the Air Force Lab’s new Information Directorate building.
The three Griffiss military facilities account for some 2,800 direct jobs. Other key upstate installations include Fort Drum in Watertown and the Air Reserve Station in Niagara Falls.
Statewide, military bases account for more than 10,000 direct jobs with direct wages of $688 million and $1.9 billion of economic impact, reports Empire State Development.
"As we have learned from previous BRAC rounds, it is important to have an early comprehensive strategy to protect New York’s defense assets, especially those located in Rome,: said Assemblyman Anthony J. Brindisi, D-116, Utica.
State Sen. Joseph A. Griffo, R-47, Rome, said strategic plan needs to showcase the assets of the installations and also drill into cost factors. There’s $5.5 million in the 2012-13 state budget to safeguard military installations. However, Griffo said it’s his understanding that the money for the lobbying firm’s contract is coming from another component of the budget.
The firm will be paid no more than $350,000 for the first year of its contract, with two option years for renewal at $375,000 each based on the sole discretion of the state. If all options are exercised, the total contract value would not exceed $1,413,000.
In the three years leading up to BRAC 2005, the administration of then Gov. George E. Pataki spent $3 million to promote New York military installations: About half the money has helped to finance the community action groups and the other half has paid for Washington lobbyists, including the firm of Hyjek & Fix.