Public meeting in March on F-35 jets coming to Madison - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Public meeting in March on F-35 jets coming to Madison

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F35A US Department of Defense photo F35A US Department of Defense photo

MADISON (WKOW) -- Next month, you'll be able to learn more about the plan to bring the new F-35A fighter jets to Madison.

In December, the Air Force picked Truax Field as one of two sites for the jets.

The National Guard is having a public meeting about the proposal.

It's Thursday, March 8 at the Crowne Plaza hotel on East Washington Avenue in Madison. It runs from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Gov. Scott Walker made the announcement in December at Truax Field the Madison would likely host the fighter jet.

“I got a call from the Secretary Wilson to officially tell us that the 115th fighter wing here at Truax Field has now become the preferred site for the new F-35A Lighting II. And so we couldn't be more thrilled and proud to have that here today,” Walker said.

Walker said hundred of jobs will accompany the 20 total advanced jets that will make Madison their home.

“Part of it will be the changes and improvements they're going to make. They're going to have to contract with people to do some of that work. Just like any other construction, if you've got a business adding and expanding operations, people benefit just off of the work being done there, the construction being done,” Walker said. “And then potentially we see more work tied into this in the future. The economic impact of the 1200 people, particularly 500 full-time employee that will grow over time, as will the surrounding impact.”

Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce President Zach Brandon said the mission of the 115th fighter wing contributes roughly $100 million every year to the local economy.

“1,200 jobs that will be sustained here. Millions more that's going to get invested in new construction. And a million dollar every single year to the universities and colleges,” Brandon said.

“On top of that, there's another over 1,600 jobs that's directly linked to the work that is being done here,” Walker said.

Brandon said surrounding communities will also see an economy boost.

“$100 million when it get spread out around the community makes a big difference. And that money get spent in restaurants, in stores in construction companies,” Brandon said. “The affect of importing money into our economy and having it circulate and having it touch as many fingers as possible, is exactly what economic development is. And this is an amazing opportunity for us to, not just maintain, but to grow our economy.”

Walker said it will take $20 million worth of investments just to get the field ready for the transition. He said that money will be paid for by the federal government.

The Dane County Regional Airport's selection as a top choice means the military will conduct an in-depth environmental impact study and gather public comment before making a final decision. 

A base in Alabama is the military's second choice.

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