Increase in students at SAFB could provide boost for Wichita Falls economy

SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE (KAUZ) - An increase in students at Sheppard Air Force Base would benefit Wichita Falls according to Mayor Stephen Santellana.

That is because he said the additional airmen means more customers at shopping centers and restaurants.

"The students, they want the entertainment," Mayor Santellana said. "You've got to realize a lot of these guys they're out there on base and they have some expendable money."

Sheppard Air Force Base is expecting an increase of 6,000 students within the next two years. The base currently has 60,000 airmen.

Mayor Santellana said SAFB is a pillar of the city so he wants to continue to expand downtown to provide the new students with something to do with their free time.

"We want to provide [the entertainment] downtown because we want to give them another option besides the southwest part of our town," Mayor Santellana said.

Mayor Santellana said the increase is happening because of the increase in military spending, President Donald Trump's budget will increase military spending by $54 billion in 2018.

"The air force, in general, is trying to increase their pilot program," he said. "President Trump said he wants to see a bigger military."

A bigger military presence in Wichita Falls could mean more than just a boom in business. Mayor Santellana said it could also grow the relationship between the base and the city.

"If you're Wichita [Falls] proud, you're proud of the universities, you're proud of Sheppard Air Force Base," Mayor Santellana said.

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