Businesses got a boost when more than 9,000 members of the military came to Camp Atterbury this summer to train to respond to attacks on U.S. soil.
That training exercise cost $18 million to stage, and about a third of that money went to local expenses such as hotel rooms, food and supplies. For instance, the Army paid $480,000 in wages to local residents who served as role players in the monthlong event.
Soldiers visiting the military installation in southern Johnson County sometimes stay at nearby hotels, and the soldiers stationed at the post live, eat and shop in neighboring communities.
An Indiana University study is looking at the exact economic impact of Camp Atterbury and the Muscatatuck Center for Complex Operations in Jennings County.
The Indiana National Guard has asked IU School of Public and Environmental Affairs professor Barry Rubin to study the post’s economic effect and other contributions it makes to the community. He and graduate students have started looking at how much money the posts contribute to the local and state economies, how many jobs they help create in the community and the amount of volunteering that soldiers do.
An internal study done last year found that the posts had an annual impact of more than $500 million, but the military wanted an outside review.
Preliminary research had found that soldiers from Camp Atterbury and Muscatatuck occupy an average of 20 rooms in seven hotels per night near the Edinburgh Premium Outlets mall, resulting in more than 50,000 annual room stays. Restaurant owners and managers told researchers that 30 to 75 percent of their sales can be directly attributed to one or both facilities.
“It’s a significant economic impact,” Rubin said.