The Economic Impact of Scott Air Force Base

Photo Credit: Scott Air Force Base

Scott Air Force Base in St. Clair County is integral to the economic growth and development of southwestern Illinois and the St. Louis metro region. Scott AFB is the largest employer in SW Illinois, and the fourth largest in the St. Louis metropolitan area. Scott AFB boasts an active working force of 13,000, with nearly 50,000 retirees and family members living in a four-state area. 

The military base’s economic impact exceeds $3 billion annually. The property includes 3,600 acres, 59 miles of roads and 1,600 housing units. The primary mission of Scott AFB is global mobility. The base provides command and control for all logistics of the United States military in air, over land, and across the sea. The installation is responsible for providing United States aeromedical evacuation capabilities, flying C-21 operational support airlift, and operating air refueling missions. 

“Scott Air Force Base is the economic engine of the Metro East and a crown jewel of the region,” stated Rep. Kevin Schmidt (R-Cahokia Heights). “Our military forces are the backbone of this country, and the base’s support of the local community is incredible. It truly is an awesome partnership.”

The 375th Air Mobility Wing is the host wing for Scott AFB. The wing’s mission is to develop and care for airmen and their families while fostering base and community partnerships.  The base was built in 1917, opening as Scott Field. It was named in honor of Corporal Frank Scott, and the facility served as an aviation training field for World War I pilots. In January 1948, just after the U.S. Air Force became a separate service, Scott Field was re-designated as Scott Air Force Base. 

Areas in and around Scott AFB continue to grow and prosper, with a $50 million project to construct a new interchange over I-64 near the base completed. Since 1990, Scott AFB has weathered four rounds of Base Realignment and Closure, and each time it has emerged with increased mission and strategic importance to the nation’s defense. 

Scott AFB operations and related economic activity support more than 33,000 jobs across Illinois. Personal income in the state dependent on the base was more than $2 billion and the economic activities added $3.5 billion to Illinois’ GDP. 

Nearby Belleville has a long history of supporting Scott AFB. The Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce Belle-Scott Committee was established in 1949, and it is the oldest continuing military/civilian partnership in the nation. The highlight of the committee’s partnership is the Annual Enlisted Dinner, which brings 150 local service men and women from Scott AFB together with Belleville residents and business owners to recognize and celebrate the sacrifice and contributions the enlisted personnel make to the residents of Belleville and the country overall.