Column: Crane importance extends beyond jobs

U.S. warships began heading to Libya very soon after Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three others were killed in an attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi. It’s quite likely the ships are equipped by technology designed and developed in southern Indiana.

Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Division, which occupies a majority of the massive military base formally called Naval Support Center Crane an hour south of Bloomington, works every day to keep the men and women on those ships and in other military operations as safe as they can be. It does so through developing the latest high tech equipment to give our troops an edge when they go into a dangerous situation.

When Crane comes up in discussions locally, a lot of the conversation is about the jobs it provides. That’s understandable, with 5,208 people working on the base. Of that total, 4,241 are government civilian employees, 922 are contractors and 45 are actual military personnel. Those are good jobs for the people of Martin County, in which Crane sits, but also Greene, Lawrence, Orange, Monroe and other close-by counties.

Here’s how good: According to information provided by the Crane Regional Economic Development Alliance, $102 million in annual salaries go to employees from Monroe County; $60 million to employees from Lawrence County; and $56 million to employees from Greene County.

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