Northern Michigan businesses brace for looming spending cuts

Potential budget cuts could hurt Michigan businesses that depend on military business.

With spending cuts looming on the horizon, many are curious how Michigan will be affected including the communities that depend on military involvement.

Grayling is home to Camp Grayling, the largest National Guard training facility in the United States. The community has come to depend on the military to help provide an economic boost in the town, and local business owners are getting nervous about what the cuts could mean for them.

Representatives for the Michigan National Guard say that Michigan is home to 1,200 military employees. Camp Grayling has 93 full time employees who could face a 20% decrease in pay if the spending cuts go through.

The small town of Grayling attracts many tourists in the summer time that help to boost local business. In the winter, the main source of income for many retail stores, restaurants, and hotels comes from the military and their families who either work at or visit the camp.

"If there is a 20% cut in the pay of the employees out at the camp, that would affect what they could spend here in town," said Grayling Chamber of Commerce President, Traci Cook. "I would say we probably have an average of 10,000 troops that come in here that could potentially spend their money here"

Owners from Spike's Keg O' Nails, a Grayling favorite, say that at least 20% of their business comes from the military in the area. They also say that the military men and women really help the business in the slower winter months.

"We see them in here every single day," said owner Jeremy Bowers. "Sometimes we'll have groups of four, sometimes groups of 20. They're in here a lot. They're in here in the Summer and they keep us going in the Winter."

Michigan National Guard representatives say that 135 temporary technicians in the state including some at Camp Grayling and the Grayling Maneuver and Training Equipment Site (M.A.T.E.S), will lose their jobs if the spending cuts go through.

"That's big to this community," said Bowers. "Years ago, you couldn't get in to this town in the Summer. That's how big Camp Grayling was. So it's like a life line to this community and we count on it, and we need it."

$85 billion cuts could be cut nationwide and will take effect from March-September. Michigan is expected to lose $140 million under the cuts, including the civilian Department of Defense employees that would be furloughed, reducing $67.7 million in gross pay, and $14 million for Army base operations.