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Local Leaders May Struggle To Reverse Defense Spending Cuts

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By Jonathan Wilson

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has ordered a ten percent reduction in spending on defense contractors each of the next three years, it could have a huge effect on the local economy.

Jerry Gordon, president of Fairfax County's Economic Development Authority, says Fairfax can weather the storm of cuts to government spending on contractors.

But he also says the uncertainty caused by the announcement will change the plans of some companies looking to move into the area.

"Now they're looking at,'Do we come in one year? Do we wait this out? What do we do with our employees?' All those things get tied up," says Gordon.

Stephen Fuller is the director of the center for regional analysis at George Mason university. He says the cuts could potentially halt the economic recovery for Virginia, and cuts to spending on contractors aren't the type of thing local members of Congress can fight like a base closure, for instance.

"If you just don't buy something next year, and it's in your budget and you spend your money in a different way, there's no oversight," says Fuller.

Fuller says local leaders are learning they can't rely on federal spending to grow the local economy the way they have for the past 30 years.


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