By Howard J. Grossman, AICP
The Pennsylvania Military Community Enhancement Commission recently sponsored a study of the economic impacts of Pennsylvania’s military and defense installations. The purpose was to assist in understanding the economic and strategic value of major installations regionally and nationally as well as their tie to surrounding communities and industries.
Tobyhanna Army Depot has a long, proud and distinguished history within this region as the largest employer, promoting higher paying jobs with more than 97 percent of its employees being from Pennsylvania.
This 2018 12-page report spells out a great deal of information that demonstrates the extent to which the Monroe County depot adds to the economy of the region. In 1995, the Depot was threatened with closure by the then federal Closure and Realignment Commission, but a Blue Ribbon Task Force led by the Economic Development Council of Northeastern Pennsylvania (EDCNP) provided a strong defense of the Depot and eventually that year, it was saved and ended up adding jobs to the facility, reaching its highest number ever.
Since then, the number of employees has come down but the depot is still the largest employment organization in the Pocono-Northeast. The current entity of EDCNP, now called NEPA Alliance, continues to be an important factor in protecting the role the depot plays as a major electronic installation in the nation.
The depot has a strong reputation as the Defense Department’s provider of logistics support for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance – known in the field as C4ISR. Weapon systems such as Light Weight Counter Mortar Radars, Satellite Tactical Terminals and the Single Channel and Airborne Radio System are maintained by the skilled workforce of Tobyhanna.
In fact, as needed, depot employees are sent to battlefields across the world to help provide a support system and adjust systems to make them viable in the national defense mode.
The following are core functions of the world’s largest electronic entity.
■Sustainment: providing support and technical assistance in the field
■Overhaul and repair: Testing, repairing and updating key systems
■Engineering: Providing services such as design, development, prototyping and integration
■Fabrication/manufacturing: Production of electronic and mechanical assemblies in support of C4ISR
■Systems integration: designing new systems and inserting new technology into legacy systems.
The depot is home to many activities and tenants in addition to Army operations such as the Defense Imagery Management Operations Center and several Army and National Guard units. It has received designations as an Army Center of Industrial and Technical Excellence for C4ISR and as an Air Force Technology Repair Center for command, control, communications, computers and intelligence and tactical missiles.
The facility covers 1136 acres with more than 1.4 million square feet of building space. The depot takes on about $500 million in new contracting activities and it supports operations in 30 countries. At the time of this report, there were 3,388 total employees, and while this number can change year by year, it still manages to be the largest in the state.