Indiana economy feels pinch as demobilization continues

Camp Atterbury equipping defense workers preparing to deploy.
Published: .
Updated: .

American troops leaving battlefields is causing thousands of jobs and more than $100 million to leave Camp Atterbury and Indiana's economy.

The Army training facility near Edinburgh prepared and equipped thousands of troops for war every week. Now only a few hundred defense workers are processed here every seven days.

Since 2003, the Army spent half a billion dollars improving what had been a sleeply Indiana National Guard training camp.

At its peak, 1,200 civilians worked to mobilize a total of 150,000 troops for combat. By October 1st, that number will be down to just 400.

An Indiana University economic impact study found that at its peak, Atterbury and its sister facility the Muscatatuck Urban Training Center contributed more than 4,000 jobs and $400 million to the Indiana economy. The study estimated the demobilization will cut those numbers by more than half.

Atterbury, once busy with traffic and rattled by the noise of gunfire, is quiet. Dozens of empty mobile homes and offices are being auctioned in nearby Edinburgh.

There are fewer soldiers and workers spending time and money on Main Street. The barber there has lost a third of his business. Business is down 50 percent at Bobbie Jo's diner. She's had to let a few workers go.

Four regulars were sharing lunch. All four have worked four years as mechanics, maintaining Army Ant trucks at Atterbury. Their jobs end at the end of the month. Not one of them has found another job.

Soldiers and civilians who worked for victory are now in more peaceful times fighting for jobs.