FORT RILEY (KSNT) – The U.S. army is looking to dramatically downsize the military and the installations they call home.
One of those cuts may well come to Fort Riley and Monday the army will hold what it calls a “listening session”.
Thousands of soldiers and employees could be leaving Fort Riley due to military budget cuts.
These cuts could not only affect the military base, but the local economy.
“There are two large economic engines in the Manhattan and Junction City market and they are Fort Riley and Kansas State University. It affects retail businesses restaurants, apartments,” said Lyle Butler, President and CEO of the Manhattan Chambers of Commerce.
Fort Riley currently has 20,000 soldiers and civilian employees on base. With cuts, the base could lose 16,000 soldiers and civilian employees. While 3,600 jobs could be lost in the surrounding communities that are dependent on the post.
“The Big Red, 1st Infantry Division, has $1.6 billion in direct economic in the state of Kansas,” said Brigadier General Eric Wesley, Deputy Commanding General for Fort Riley and 1st Infantry Division.
These potential cuts have got the attention of local businesses in the community.
“That does affect smaller businesses in town. Not just my business but other businesses that I patronize. There is a quality of life issues that kind of comes up with all of this,” said Aaron Apel, Owner of Big Poppi Bicycle Company in Manhattan.
Fort Riley isn’t just important to the families and the military that live on the base, but it is also important to the local community here in Manhattan. That’s why Big Poppi Bicycle Company is shutting down for the afternoon and taking all of its employees to the listening on Monday.
Big Poppi along with other businesses in the ‘Little Apple’ close to the base will be speaking out in support of Fort Riley.
“I really feel like the flint hills region in Manhattan is the best option for Fort Riley and the best option for the U.S. military because we care about our soldiers,” said Apel.
State and military officials encourage residents and businesses to attend the Fort Riley community session on Monday.
Among those expected to testify at Monday’s hearing are a majority of the state’s congressional delegation, Governor Sam Brownback, a score of local government, business leaders, and members of the general public.
If you would like your voice heard, the hearing is expected to start at 3:30 p.m. from 5 p.m. at the Geary County Convention Center in Junction City.