Importance of Barnes highlighted by public officials

Base is major economic driver for region

WESTFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Business leaders and elected officials were at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield Thursday to highlight its importance to our region.

Barnes is a huge source of pride for the city of Westfield, and also a significant contributor to our local economy. It’s one of the top employers in western mass, with about 17-hundred direct and indirect jobs, and Barnes brought in close to 80 million dollars to our area last year alone.

And without the 104th, Barnes Airport wouldn’t be what it is. Just last year, a $21 million dollar runway was completed, thanks to this partnership between the guard and local, state, and the federal government.

“All of us together pooled our resources and we got the job done once and we got it done right and it’s going to make this airport last for another 50-100 years,” said Major General Scott Rice of the Massachusetts Air National Guard.

When one part of Barnes grows, the other parts succeed as well. Like GulfStream, a private aircraft maintenance facility which employs 225 people.

“Gulf Stream would like to expand so we called together today a number of potential bidders on defense contracting work and also land use opportunities here and around Barnes Air Force base,” said Congressman Richard Neal.

Marty Jones who is the president and CEO of MassDevelopment also talked about a new workforce training program at Westfield Vocational Technical High School which will prepare young people for jobs in aircraft maintenance.

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