YPG a major player in Yuma's economic health
Our congratulations once again to Yuma Proving Ground, which has been named the busiest Army test center in the United States for the third time.
Many don't realize the role that YPG plays on an international scale, but it holds an integral part in the Army's overall mission, as well as Yuma's economy.
In fiscal year 2012, the test center had nearly 2.3 million direct labor hours, accounting for more than a quarter of the Army's total test workload.
YPG is responsible for a variety of projects, but the general theme remains the same – making sure that our military is safe and prepared.
The wide-open expanse of desert land available to the proving ground – about 20 percent of Yuma County – is the ideal space to safely test equipment and technology, from electronic warfare and counter-IED technology to the Stryker, the Paladin self-propelled howitzer and radar systems, all while conducting a variety of training operations.
As a result, the proving ground is Yuma County's largest employer of civilians, employing over 3,000 military members and civilians. And, over 23,000 visitors come to YPG annually, as well as nearly 100 military units from around the nation who come here to train. All of those visitors account for dollars spent in our community, from hotel rooms to meals at restaurants and more.
In fact, the test center has an economic impact of over $425 million a year, much of which stays within the county and Arizona, according to YPG.
YPG is a vital element of Yuma County's economic well-being. Unfortunately, senior officials at the proving ground noted that their budgets are expected to decline in the coming years. However, they are hopeful that customers will continue to work with YPG because of their technical expertise, ranges and customer-service culture.
We hope that's the case. A reduction in spending at YPG could have a major impact on Yuma County – both in employment and dollars spent in the economy by visitors. As we see signs of improvement in our economy, such as the F-35's arrival at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, the partnership between the Mayo Clinic and Yuma Regional Medical Center and construction at the Yuma International Airport, Yuma is poised for major growth.
We hope that the impact of any spending cuts to YPG is minimal, and testing – and employment – continues for years to come.