U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground affects economy

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Yuma, Arizona serves as one of the biggest proving grounds for the military. Almost every piece of equipment a soldier has undergoes testing here at some point in their development. We spoke with Colonel Patrick McFall  about its economic impact on the state.

The Yuma proving ground is the largest artillery range in the nation, and one of the largest military installations in the world. It is the fourth-largest installation of the Department of Defense. It is bigger than the state of Rhode Island. In one part of the range, testing goes from the ground to space, and in another part it goes up to 80,000 feet, allowing for large-scale testing.

Multiple forms of equipment are tested at the site on a daily basis, whether it’s driving, shooting, or flying equipment.

Colonel McFall mentions that in 2007 there was a McGuire study that showed the Yuma Proving Ground had about a $1.1 billion total economic impact on the surrounding area.

The ongoing technological advancements have made an impact at the range. They have recently started using self-driving vehicles. McFall believes this is a great improvement as it can minimize the number of service members being exposed to the potential dangers during testing.

McFall says the best part of the Yuma Proving Ground is being surrounded by ambitious people. “Once I got out here, you know what amazed me most about that place? The people,” McFall said.

While most workers were forced to leave their typical work environment as the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country, McFall says that 89% of his workforce continued to come to the site daily. “You can’t fire an artillery cannon from a house. So we had to go to work, and we worked in a COVID environment,” he said.

McFall mentions he is thankful that they did not experience an economic fallout during the pandemic, and the site has continued to thrive regularly.

Colonel Ben McFall III, Commander, U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground

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