WARNER ROBINS, Georgia (41NBC/WMGT) – The 21st Century Partnership is reaching out to the community for help as Middle Georgia prepares for major defense cuts.
"The impact...if a solution is not reached can be significant," Maj. Gen. (ret.) Bob McMahon, president and CEO of the 21st Century Partnership, said.
McMahon is urging the Middle Georgia community to prepare for the worst. He's calling on community and business leaders, as well as health care officials and clergy, to start thinking of ways to help the community if and when sequestration kicks off.
"It is absolutely essential to remember...there are people, Americans, federal employees who will be adversely affected if our president and our congress can not do what we asked them to do, and that is govern and lead our nation," McMahon said.
The deadline to come up with a plan is March 1st, but we are already feeling the impact. The Robins Air Force Base imposed a civilian hiring freeze and temporary employees are getting fired. If the defense cuts come, 15,000 civilian workers would be forced to take furlough days, which would add up to $83 million in lost earnings a year.
"There's going to be certain levels of pain associated with this as people begin to get furloughed or potentially lose their jobs and the impacts of those folks and how they're going to deal with that," Maj. Gen. (ret.) Rick Goddard said.
Businesses will also feel the pain. The Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce says several of its members are defense contractors with the base.
"We've already seen companies making some changes based on the restructuring that occurred at the base and this would be a further blow to that," Morgan Law, president and CEO of the Robins Regional Chamber of Commerce, said.
These defense cuts are from the 2011 Budget Control Act that allowed Congress to raise the national debt ceiling in exchange for future spending cuts. Congress and the President have until March 1st to come up with a plan. It could mean $500 billion in defense cuts if they can't come up with one.
Lawmakers are currently working on a plan to help soften the blow these cuts will cause. Stay with 41 NBC and 41NBC.com for the latest on this developing story.