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Tanker Mission Could Have Huge Impact on Economy - Valley News Live - KVLY/KXJB - Fargo/Grand Forks

Tanker Mission Could Have Huge Impact on Economy

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     Grand Forks is waiting for a decision that could add hundreds of millions of dollars to its local economy.

     The Grand Forks Air Base has made the list of the final four bases in the running for a new air-refueling tanker mission.

     The Air Force is scheduled to announce its decision in May.

     The Grand Forks Air Force Base took a major hit to its population, since the tanker mission started leaving in 2005. It went from around 6-thousand airmen in 2005 to 2-thousand today.

     The last of the 48 tanker planes, the 4-thousand airmen who supported the mission, and their families were all gone by December of 2010.

     However, if this line of planes is replaced with new ones, and all the airmen to support them, officials say it could mean a major boost to the Grand Forks economy.

Eric  Icard, GF Economic Development Corp: "It's nearly 200-million dollars… is the economic impact today."

Reporter: "And that could get much bigger?"

Icard: "It certainly could, when you add that many more personnel, families spending money in our Community. It's going to have a tremendous impact."

     John Marshal of Grand Forks chairs a committee that lobbies for the base. He says talk is favorable for Grand Forks base to be chosen, because it's in better condition than the other bases. But, he says none of the four bases on the final list are a shoo-in.

     Marshal says at this point, we'll all just have to wait and see whether the Grand Forks Base is chosen in May to be the home of a new line of air refueling tankers… and all the potential dollars it would bring to Grand Forks.

     The other 3 bases in the running for the tanker mission are Altus Air Base in Oklahoma, McConnell Air Base in Kansas, and Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington state.

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