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Williams – Refitted for success after BRAC

  • Published
  • By Air Force Civil Engineer Center
  • Western Execution Branch
In 1991, when the Base Realignment and Closure Commission announced that Williams Air Force Base would close, the surrounding community here feared it was a death toll for the region.

Some 24 years later, the greater Mesa region sees things differently.

Today, the former base is home to a thriving airport, several colleges and numerous businesses bringing 10,000 jobs and $1.3 billion in economic activity to the region, more than when the base was open.

For half a century, Williams served as a flight training base and was Mesa's financial focal point, providing economic affluence to a growing community.

Then, in 1993, Williams was among 12 major Air Force installations closed under BRAC.  But thanks to a lot of help from the Air Force and BRAC resources, the City of Mesa transformed Williams into a base closure success story.

The Air Force Civil Engineer Center manages the disposal of Air Force property in accordance with BRAC law and a BRAC Master Plan. The goal of Air Force BRAC is to return value to the Air Force and local communities by transferring surplus military property and ensuring the protection of human health and the environment on former military installations.

Behind the efforts of Air Force engineers and real estate specialists, Mesa rapidly received the keys to the 4,000-acre base enabling a timely redevelopment.

"The Air Force has really completed the vast majority of the work that we need to do at Williams," said Philip Mook, chief of the AFCEC's Western Execution Branch. "I think everybody will be happy to see the Air Force transition out of an active role and let the community have the full enjoyment of the property."

As a BRAC base, Williams is a good model for how communities can end up better off than before.

The region now has more jobs, more diversification and more economic impact than when the base was open.

Although Williams Air Force Base is gone, its aviation legacy remains -- providing the region with a powerful economic engine that continues to take Mesa to new heights.