Military reunions boost Jacksonville economy

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Hundreds of Veterans from across the country are reuniting in Jacksonville. The River city sees more than 32 military reunions each year. According, the reunions bring in $1.5 million dollars to our local economy.

George Baker and Steve Singlar are good friends and Vietnam veterans, who met on the ship, Hugh Pirvus, back in 1968.

"There were short nights, you know?" said Singlar. "We were all getting awakened for something. But, there was also good times, too."

Today, the veterans get to share those good memories while creating new ones, at the same time.

"We always want to make sure we have a naval connection wherever we go," said Baker. "And, that's why we picked Jacksonville."

"It is like wow! We get to see them again and go back to being 18, 19 and 20," said Singlar.

The reunions also play an important role in Jacksonville's economy. About 25,000 veterans and their families make the stop in Jacksonville each year, according to CEO of USS Adams Museum effort, Joe Snowberger.

"They stay in Downtown hotels, they eat in downtown restaurants, they tour, they shop they spend, they take taxis," said Snowberger.

He predicts, the direct economic impact of the Pirvus reunion's 5-day stay comes in at more than $108 thousand dollars. Snowberger is hoping a floating museum, the USS Adams war ship will add up to $5 million dollars to the pot.

"After two marketing and business studies, we conservatively found that we would have 200,000 visitors from across the globe."

The ship would come from Philadelphia and find a permanent home at the Maritime Historic Shipyards property on the Northbank. It would serve as a museum, education center, tourist attract and it would include a tribute to veterans.

So far, Snowberger says, they have raised $2 million dollars in private donations to bring the ship to Jacksonville. Now, they are looking to raise $2 million dollars more.


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