Local business leaders appear cautiously optimistic regarding news that the war in Iraq is ending and troops stationed there will be coming home by the end of the year.
A week ago today, President Barrack Obama declared an end to the war in Iraq, and 3rd Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Robert “Abe” Abrams announced that the division’s Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, which had been slated to deploy to Iraq next month, would not be going.
“I think it may help my business,” said Linda Barnes, co-owner of New & Not on Main Street in Hinesville. “I don’t see how it can hurt it.”
Barnes said her family-owned consignment shop has been in business for 33 years and has seen many ups and downs in sales based on deployments by 3rd ID soldiers.
“A lot of wives tend to go home when their soldier is deployed,” she said. “It’ll be helpful if they’re not deployed so often now.”
Her sentiments were echoed by David Hinze, co-owner of Zum Rosenhof, a German restaurant in downtown Hinesville.
“It’s going to be nice to see (3rd ID soldiers) not gone so often,” he said. “When the majority of the (3rd Infantry) Division is gone, you can tell it. Business is slow.”
Hinze added that only time would tell how much of an impact having the soldiers stay home longer will have on his business and the local economy.
“I believe it’s a positive thing for the future,” said William Strickland, a realtor with Realty Executives Liberty. “Having the soldiers staying here longer should benefit the housing market.”
Strickland, who has worked in real estate in Georgia for more than 20 years, said he thinks the news that Fort Stewart soldiers only will be deploying to one theater of war (Afghanistan) would help stabilize soldiers’ families and thereby allow them to think about settling in the community by buying a home.
Leah Poole, executive director of the Liberty County Chamber of Commerce, agreed with many of the comments of the above business owners, especially Hinze’s comment about time revealing how much of an impact the end of the war in Iraq will have on the local economy. She said she was optimistic if only because having the troops home longer was better for military families and the community as a whole.