Significant personnel increases of approximately 8,700 soldiers at Fort Drum, New York resulting from the Army's transformation of the 10th Mountain Division into a Modular Force and the Army's "Grow the Army" initiative is impacting the surrounding communities, particularly with regard to housing and medical needs. Fort Drum is by far the largest employer in the greater upstate New York area, and is the major driver in the local economy. The installation is heavily dependent upon the surrounding community for housing, education, medical facilities, and services. The Fort Drum Regional Liaison Organization (FDRLO) was formed in 1990 to facilitate community-installation collaboration.
The Army expects that approximately 65 percent of the housing needs at Fort Drum will be met off-post in the surrounding communities. In a rural area, such as Jefferson County, New York, private sector builders are reluctant to develop "spec" housing in anticipation of projected growth. Additionally, based on local market conditions, it is not profitable for developers to build multi-family rental units at prices affordable for the soldiers. The State of New York, the Development Authority of the North Country, and Jefferson County provided a $9 million housing incentive program to help meet the rental-housing gap. This program resulted in the development of more than 700 rental units for soldiers and their families. However, studies indicate there is still a housing gap of approximately 1,000 housing units. Despite successes with the initial housing initiative, there are still likely to be housing shortages as troops return from deployment. During the growth period, 5,500 to 7,500 soldiers are deployed at any one time, and estimates indicate 2,000 families have yet to join the soldiers assigned to Fort Drum. Personnel migrations are not expected to be fully realized until 2014. Recently, Jefferson County, the Development Authority of the North Country, and the Jefferson County Industrial Development Authority committed funds totaling $7 million to provide additional incentives to stimulate the rental housing construction industry in the Fort Drum region and help fill the housing gap.
During the 1985 expansion of Fort Drum, a decision was made to use the excess capacity of the five community hospitals within the 30-mile radius of Fort Drum; consequently, Fort Drum was built with no on-post hospital. A large outpatient clinic was built on post, but 94 percent of hospital services needed by the Army are handled in the five area facilities. The rapid surge in soldier and dependent population and a commitment to continue using community services resulted in the establishment of the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization (FDRHPO) to coordinate and address regional health related issues. The FDRHPO works with the five regional hospitals and engages in assessing facility requirements as well as physician recruitment and retention. The five hospitals have invested a combined total of $90 million for expansions to meet both the military and community needs.
To view the community's 2009 Mission Growth Profile, click here.