Tuesday, August 24, 2010

ON HOME ~ Being All They Can Be...

My adopted hometown of Natick, MA is often known for their mall. Natick is home to the Natick Mall - oh, I'm sorry, the Natick Collection. When it was expanded and gussied up with overpriced luxury anchor stores the developers renamed it. They actually wanted to name it NATICK. Someone pointed out to them that the actual TOWN of Natick might take issue with that. The mall is convenient to many western suburbs of Boston and provides a lot of tax relief to the residents. We have a lot of retail in Natick which is great, but the the town's biggest employer is the Army.

Natick has been home to the Natick Soldier Systems Center since the mid-50's. This Army facility provides research, development and engineering to the service men and women across all branches of the armed forces. Situated right in our neighborhood, it is a high tech development and testing facility to provide the best equipment possible for soldiers - specifically food, shelter and clothing. They consider themselves the premier soldier support system.

At the Army Labs (as we refer to them locally) they come up with better nutritional meals for the field, better packaging, more durable and comfortable clothing, more protective armor, stronger parachute equipment for air drop missions, and adaptable shelters, among many others. Pretty much all of the developments, improvements and changes that the field receive in these areas have been worked on at the Natick Army Labs.

We went to a unique town meeting last week where we got to see the labs beyond the guard gate. The Army Labs are putting together a renovation master plan with the hopes that they can be granted the funds to make the 50+ year old facility up to date, pull housing for the soldiers and their families onto the campus instead of scattered in surrounding towns and alleviate traffic issues on our little streets because of commuting personnel in and out each day.

Sounds like a good plan and I thought it was nice of them to bother to let us know where our tax dollars could end up considering we have no say in the matter of their master plan. But they wanted to hear our concerns, questions and input.  They are willing to collaborate on street improvements and share recreational facilities.  And they want to continue to be good neighbors, which helps their standing in the eyes of the Dept. of Defense whenever base closings are brought up.

My understanding is that there are about 1,800 people employed at the Army Labs - with about 1,650 of them being civilians. Local engineers, scientists and technology gurus have jobs because of the Army's presence in our town. And I must admit, I don't mind seeing some of the uniformed men out for a jog ;0) But hearing the notes from the bugle float their way to us on a warm summer day is the nicest reminder of the people who serve on our behalf overseas and those just down the road who do their best to keep them all safe.

Who is your town's biggest employer? Does your town have a local military presence?


Little Ms Blogger said...

I don't know who the biggest employer is in my town - maybe Diageo (?) the alcohol company. But, GE, has a large presence in the area as it is headquartered in Stamford.

Gwen@ChewDigestBooks.com said...

I don't think that I would mind seeing them jog either:)

We live in a pretty small town, so the largest here is probably the hospital. However, the next city over is the home to Cal Poly University, they are the largest employer in the area and thanks to students, often the largest headache!

Sandy Nawrot said...

We have virtually no military presence here in Orlando, but I bet you can guess one of our bigger employers. We also have lately gotten some industry here, but tourism rules the roost.

Yes, my favorite thing to do in San Diego is sit by the ocean and watch those boys jog by shirtless...(makes me sound like an old cougar).

lovesmukiwa said...

The sinlge largest employer in our town of 3000 is the college - where I am employed. The town however is full of people working in jobs directly related to the oil "Patch" as it is called.

Matty said...

Where would this country be without them. And nice of you to publicly recognize them too.

There's a large mix of private company employers here. I do know that there are many engineers and computer specialists in this area.

Kathleen said...

I live and work in Silicon Valley in the SF Bay Area. I'm not sure who the valley's biggest employer is, maybe Cisco? We have so many high tech companies every where you look. I kind of miss the place I grew up in that had orchards and open space (this same valley). We have Lockheed and other than that I don't know what our military-related presence is here. I feel so ignorant!

Anonymous said...

How nice that they invited you all to see beyond the gate. And I wouldn't mind seeing them jog around my town either ;)

I checked and our biggest employer last year was Swagelok (fluid systems tecnology?) with 2524 employees, but we also have Nestle with 1689 employees and they just built a tasting center so maybe they'll be close next year. Wish I could get a job at the tasting center!