Some Gowen operations could move and hurt Boise's economy

BOISE, Idaho (KBOI) -- Gowen Field is home to 22 of the nation's 283 A-10 jets. Those 22 planes create around 1,000 National Guard and Reserve jobs in Boise.

But because of federal funding cuts, the Air Force is proposing a plan to retire the A-10. If that happens, the people who work on the aircraft at Gowen Field could be relocated to Mountain Home Air Force Base for a new assignment.

Colonel Tim Marsano, spokesman for Idaho's National Guard, says this could pose a problem for the Idaho Air National Guard because the majority of its workers are reservists, meaning they work one weekend a month and two full weeks a year for the guard, with a civilian job the rest of the time. Marsano says the hour commute to Mountain Home could discourage recruits.

"The main population of the state is here in the Treasure Valley," Marsano said. "Would we be able to get the recruits in the Mountain Home area? We don't know."

The City of Boise says it wants to see airmen stay at Gowen because the Idaho Guard's payroll pumps more than $60-million dollars into the Treasure Valley's economy every year.

"That's a significant benefit to our community every year, and we really don't want to see that go away," said Adam Park, City of Boise spokesman.

Idaho Senator Jim Risch says he's been trying to negotiate with the Pentagon on Boise's behalf.

"We're going to continue to work with them and see if we can't persuade them that this A-10 mission needs to be carried forward for at least a number of more years in the future," Risch told KBOI.

Risch and the City of Boise say they believe Gowen Field has room to grow and possibly operate another kind of jet in the future. But Park warns that may not happen if this budget proposal passes.

"If Gowen loses its mission now, it won't be in a position to get a new mission, should that become available," Park said.