By Brandon Smith
Barksdale Airforce Base (BAFB) is truly a beacon of strength in the Shreveport/Bossier area. The base was opened in 1933, and actually predates the Air Force by 15 years.
BAFB is a city within a city, and houses roughly 1000 families. It has its own fire station, police unit and utilities. It is one of the largest bases in the country, and maintains 48, B52's.
The economic impact it has on the area is enormous; in 2017, it generated $822,000,000 in revenue for our area. It is the largest employer in the region, with 15,000 employees.
Louisiana Association for the Blind operates an AbilityOne Base Supply Center at Barksdale. Operated by and stock with products made by Americans who are blind, this center is a one-stop shop for office and cleaning supplies, as well as IEE(individual equipment elements) for divisions on base to stock their units. This operation not only gives the blind another outlet for employment, but it gives them a chance to gain experience in a business environment. Being that a lot of National Industries for the Blind (NIB) work is centered in manufacturing, these base supply stores allow blind employees a chance to get the experience of working in a retail setting while contributing to making sure that our great military personnel have what they need to do their jobs efficiently. It expands the employment opportunities for the blind beyond manufacturing. That is a huge plus in my opinion.