Reporting Jon Keller
BEDFORD (CBS) – One of the area’s marquee military installations is dealing with a stunning blow.
Deep budget cuts at the Electronics Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford could mean hundreds of lost jobs.
James Cunningham, of the Armed Forces Communications Association, once helped run that center, and now lobbies on behalf of some of its contractors.
“It’s quite a blow. Some of them are going to lose probably over 50% of their business,” said Cunningham.
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Cunningham says the Pentagon’s decision to move command of the center’s work to an Air Force base in Ohio leaves a cloud over the future of Hanscom’s crown jewel.
“The mission and the workload will stay here, lots of overhead and lots of management layers are going to be removed,” said Cunningham. “But, what does that do for the future? It’s unknown at this point.”
For Maureen Rogers of the Hanscom-Area Chamber of Commerce, that uncertainty, at a time when more major defense spending cuts seem certain, is terrifying.
“It could be as much of a $5 billion economic impact to our area, and a loss of potentially 16,000 jobs,” said Rogers.
In a statement to WBZ-TV, Sen. John Kerry said he’s pushing back against cuts at Hanscom, saying, “We have a good story to tell and we’re going to tell it.”
Meanwhile, a base spokesman said a round of cuts will begin in April with a loss of up to 160 contractor employees the first year. That’s on top of 373 civilian jobs that have recently been eliminated.