Towns Turn Base Closings to Their Advantage

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (search) is now a state-of-the-art civilian air facility after a historic military base there was closed in 1996.

Texas officials say the facility is responsible for 35,700 jobs, has a total payroll of $790.6 million, and provides the area around Austin with an estimated $1.8 billion in economic impact.

The facility used to be the Bergstrom Air Reserve Base, which opened during World War II but has since been targeted by the federal Base Realignment and Closure Process (search) (BRAC).

"We were nervous about the Air Force shutting down the airfield, but the fact that we could turn that property right around and have this even larger economic impact was remarkable for us," said Austin Mayor Will Wynn.

In Lubbock, Texas, Reese Air Force Base (search) became Reese Technology Park (search) — a learning and business center used by local universities and high-tech firms that provides 570 jobs and injects roughly $9 million a year into the local economy.

Unlike in Texas, California officials say the BRAC process has left local economies all across the Golden State reeling. One estimate says California has lost $9.6 billion in revenue per year after the closings of the Naval Air Station at Moffett Field (search) in Mountain View, the Presidio (search) in San Francisco and Fort Ord (search) along Monterey Bay.

Leon Panetta (search), former White House chief of staff in the Clinton administration, represented the Monterey area in Congress when the decision was made to shut the gates at Fort Ord. Panetta said the base represented about 25 percent of the local economy.

"When the military leaves, we're talking about roughly 25,000 military and then probably another 10,0000 civilian jobs that are associated with that," Panetta said.

Panetta acknowledged less critical military installations ought to be closed. Those who've been through the process say the key is to not live in denial and start the transition to convert that land as soon as possible.

Click on the video box above for a complete report by FOX News' Mike Emanuel.