Military division permanently establishing, expanding in Homestead
By Risa Polansky
A military unit in temporary offices in Homestead is to permanently set up shop there, adding up to 200 jobs, boosting the local economy and creating opportunities to secure more armed-service divisions in the future, county Commissioner Dennis Moss says.
"A big key to the Homestead Air Reserve Base is really trying to bring in as many missions as we can," he said. "The more missions we can bring, the more personnel we can bring to the base, the bigger economic impact we can have."
He expects the planned expansion of the Special Operations Command South — from 200 members to up to 400 — to benefit Homestead and surrounding areas.
"When you bring additional personnel to the area, they have a certain spending power," Mr. Moss said. "They go to the restaurants and the stores, and that puts additional money into the economy down in South Dade."
The special operations unit occupies now a complex of temporary facilities.
It moved from Puerto Rico to the Homestead Air Reserve Base in 2004 "because preexisting infrastructure was in place to immediately begin daily operations, and land was available for immediate construction of a temporary headquarters building," said Maj. Armando Hernandez, public affairs officer for the operation, in an e-mail.
He noted also the base's proximity to its parent organization, the U.S. Southern Command, and Miami International Airport, "a major hub for travel into and out of South America, Central America and the Caribbean."
The operation has since outgrown its temporary housing, Major Hernandez said.
"A new headquarters building will allow us to expand our office and warehouse space to accommodate possible future growth to our headquarters. Increased office space in the new building will… allow the unit to grow in conjunction with Department of Defense and higher headquarters manning decisions."
County commissioners agreed last month to negotiate a lease of county-owned land and a building adjacent to the base.
The special operations unit is to within the year move some personnel into the 3,000-square-foot building and plans to begin constructing a headquarters within three to four years, Major Hernandez said.
Added Brigadier Gen. Charles T. Cleveland, commander of the unit, "We are tremendously excited about the future improvements to our facilities and personal work spaces. I also feel that this new facility demonstrates our commitment to the local area and will strengthen our ties to surrounding South Florida communities."
Homestead was hard hit when the former Homestead Air Base, which was recommended for closure in 1993, was downsized to the present Homestead Air Reserve Base with a large loss of military jobs and a transfer of 580 acres of the base to Miami-Dade County for mixed-use development.
Commitments such as the current expansion could be key to attracting more military divisions, said Commissioner Moss, who represents the area.
The federal government "want(s) joint-use bases," he said.
For missions based abroad now that may return to the US, Mr. Moss said, "Homestead would be a good candidate."