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NORTH CHICAGO, IL-Being the US Navy’s only boot camp, Great Lakes Naval Training Center was not expected to be on the US Department of Defense’s Base Realignment and Closure hit list. However, Great Lakes still may take a hit, as the proposed BRAC program calls for a net loss of 2,022 jobs, out of a population of 23,439.

Although that population includes 13,000 students and recruits preparing to ship out to various ports, the base has a military payroll of $275 million while the civilian work force there adds another $134 million to the area economy. “The decrease in the military population of Great Lakes may have an impact on the amount of federal tax dollars received by the City of North Chicago, such as school impact aid, motor fuel tax and census revenue,” Mayor Leon Rockingham Jr. says.

However, fewer workers at what still will be the city’s largest employer—Abbott Laboratories employs 7,000–could mean less traffic at the 20,000-sf Grant Place shopping center being built by Five Points Development Corp. at 18th Street and Sheridan Road. Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT is marketing space there at $14 per sf. Also, the city council late last year approved a $10-million bond sale to buy up 32 acres at Sheridan Road and Martin Luther King Drive, across from an entrance to Great Lakes. It also hired McShane Corp./Bulls Development Corp. to plan, develop, lease and sell space in the mixed-use retail and commercial development that will be known as Sheridan Crossings.

“Thanks to the efforts of the state, the congressional delegation and the local community, we have a very strong argument that the Great Lakes Training Center has tremendous military value and we will aggressively advocate for the retention of these jobs and the instrumental services they provide our nation,” Gov. Rod Blagojevich says.

Further south, 34 jobs, evenly split between civilian and military positions, are targeted for elimination at Fort Sheridan. The lakefront Army base already is being redeveloped for residential use. Earlier, the Navy turned over its air station in Glenview, which has become the site of the Glen mixed-use development.

One of two facilities scheduled for closing in Illinois is a Navy reserve center in Forest Park. The closure will result in a loss of 16 military jobs. The only other Illinois closure results in the loss of 32 jobs at a reserve center in Downstate Carbondale.

The loss of jobs at Great Lakes Training Center is likely to have less of an impact than the 1,263 proposed to be cut at the Rock Island Arsenal. The arsenal is the second-largest employer in the Quad Cities area, as well as a $1.1-billion annual impact on the local economy.

On the other hand, Scott Air Force base in Belleville will see a net gain of 797 jobs, while Greater Peoria Regional Air National Guard base is in line for a net gain of 34 jobs. The Capital Airport Air National Guard base in Springfield will see a net reduction of 163 jobs.

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