McKethan, Aaron N.; Maynard, Nicholas C.
October 2006
Journal of Appalachian Studies;Fall2006, Vol. 12 Issue 2, p140
Academic Journal
This study reports on the distribution of procurement-related spending by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) in Appalachian counties. This analysis suggests that Appalachia, by and large, lags the nation in DoD procurement activity, despite some notable exceptions in Appalachian counties that have long played an important role in military-related research and development activities. Considering the region's economic history, these findings may not be altogether surprising. Much of the region generally lacks the specialized, highly-educated workforce and access to capital necessary to be competitive in DoD's procurement process. Further, many Appalachian counties--reeling from recent manufacturing and other job losses--are deliberately focusing their economic development efforts on building from within, tapping into local resources and assets rather than continuing to rely almost exclusively on recruitment of outside firms, investments, and expenditures. Nonetheless, this analysis underscores the need to look beyond the presence of actual military bases to gain a more complete understanding of the major federal expenditures flowing to counties in the region. Our research also suggests potential new strategies for those counties that border successful procurement counties to develop or enhance regional linkages to benefit from close proximity to local defense-related clusters fueled by federal procurement. Given the clustering of procurement contracts in few counties in the region, we argue that adjacent counties may have much to gain from establishing or increasing efforts to assist local firms to win defense contracts themselves or become part of the supply chains for local defense contractors that do.


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