Phenix City could benefit from BRAC decisions about Fort Benning

COLUMBUS, Ga.(AP)_The owner of Millie's Caribbean Cravings Cafe says BRAC's decision to expand nearby Fort Benning, which already accounts for 70 percent of his business, has convinced him to build a new and larger restaurant so he can sell more of his popular Cuban sandwiches.

"I've been working on it, but with the expansion of Fort Benning, we're trying to put it together," said Harold Encarnacion. "I also want an international market because there are all kinds of people coming in."
The unanimous vote Wednesday by the Base Realignment and Closure Commission will move the Army's Armor School and Center from Fort Knox, Ky., to Fort Benning in west-central Georgia. It is expected to bring 28,000 new residents to the area and trigger an economic boom in parts of western Georgia and eastern Alabama.
"If you can't get excited about this, you'd better check your pulse," said Mike Gaymon, president of the Columbus, Ga., Chamber of Commerce.
Among the new residents will be about 4,000 soldiers and civilian workers and their families. Hundreds of civilian contractors and their families are also expected to relocate.
"It's going to be generating a lot of business," said William Butler, manager of R&J's Tire Company in Phenix City, Ala. He said business has been flat lately, possibly because of high fuel prices.
Fort Benning, known as the "Home of the Infantry," already trains all infantry soldiers. The Armor School trains tankers and the cavalry.
"We'll be the home of the infantry, the armor and the cavalry," said Biff Hadden, a senior vice president at the chamber. "Think of the pride that goes with it.
"In an Army of 500,000 active-duty soldiers, we will train over 105,000 soldiers a year," he said.
The move is expected to occur in stages over four years, but Hadden said officials have already begun planning for additional housing, the expansion of some schools and the addition of new ones in the Columbus area, which includes Harris, Muscogee, Chattahoochee, Marion counties in Georgia and Alabama's Russell County and Phenix City.
Copyright 2005 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.