North Central Washington might be getting an added layer of protection if recruiting efforts by the Chelan-Douglas Regional Port Authority are successful in bringing the Washington Army National Guard to the Wenatchee Valley.

The unit is currently stationed at Fairchild Air Force Base near Spokane.

The move would bring with it 28 full time jobs and a fleet of nine helicopters. The fleet includes six UH-72 Lakota helicopters and three UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters.

The unit would be stationed in the Executive Flight building in East Wenatchee and the air fleet would be kept at Pangborn Memorial Airport.

CEO Jim Kuntz said that a relocation to the Wenatchee Valley would mean significant cost savings and less blade hours, especially for the Department of Natural Resources.

"They're at Fairchild and they keep on coming to North Central Washington to put our fires out." Kuntz said, "So why not just locate in Wenatchee, where it's just down the street to put out the fires?"

Kuntz added that the big winner in a possible agreement would be the local economy. For one weekend a month, roughly 100 reservists would visit the Wenatchee Valley for training, which means potential hotel and restaurant dollars.

The regional port says the Washington Army National Guard could lease the Executive Flight building for 10 years starting in 2023. A 10-20 acre parcel could be purchased by the Washington Army National Guard from the port with the intention of building a 60,000 square foot hanger in the future.

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