Post-BRAC Renewal: Adaptive Reuse on the Southern Plains

From 1988 to 2005, the U.S. Department of Defense’s (DOD) Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) program reshaped, streamlined, and modernized the extensive DOD network of military installations across the country. In achieving this goal, troop realignment and base closures had serious economic implications for the local communities that supported the affected installations. While DOD took responsibility for the contamination and hazard mitigation on the closed military installation sites, communities were often left with no resources to redevelop or reuse the closed sites.

Key lessons can be learned from how Economic Development Districts (EDDs) have convened, adapted, and reacted to BRAC closure actions in their communities and local military installations. This case study will feature South Plains Association of Governments (SPAG) in west Texas and their valuable work redeveloping Reese Air Force Base outside of Lubbock, TX. Lessons learned from this SPAG case study are widely applicable across the economic development space. Just as manufacturing facilities, universities, coal-fired power plants, or nuclear power plants are key economic drivers and employers in regions, military installations can be the bellwether for regional economic prosperity. As the installation goes, so goes the region, emphasizing the importance of long-term economic development and resilience planning done through the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS).


Military activity on the site began when the Army Air Corps first opened an Advanced Flying School in 1942. Over 25,000 pilots were trained at Reese AFB in its 55-year operation. Reese AFB also achieved acclaim through the first use of a digital flight simulator to train pilots. Several local industries relied on the base and thousands of both direct and indirect jobs injected money into the local Lubbock and wider regional economies from base employment. The base was selected for closure during the 1995 BRAC round and final military operations ceased on the site in 1997. Under its obligations from the National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. Air Force has managed the site contamination remediation activities, completing major remediation activities in 2016 related to the trichloroethylene used in cleaning solutions for aircraft. The current contaminants being remediated are perfluorinated compounds which came from the use of fire suppression foam. Further testing and site monitoring is conducted on the site to ensure that the groundwater meets EPA standards. This process is expected to continue for the next 10-15 years.  

Reese Air Force Base Aerial View
credit: South Plains Association of Governments

SPAG has championed redevelopment of the Reese Air Force Base since its closure in 1997, serving as one of the primary entities pushing for redevelopment and reuse of the site in partnership with the Reese Technology Center (RTC). The Reese Technology Center is the dba name for the Lubbock Reese Redevelopment Authority (LRAA) that aims to redevelop the former Reese Air Force Base site into a business and research park. The base site was primed for redevelopment as the site had extensive infrastructure assets including the large runways, roadways, utilities on site, and several existing structures that have been converted into warehousing, research centers, and industrial uses. Thanks to the efforts of SPAG, RTC, and the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA), the site is now thriving as a host to over 25 private site occupants and public entities like Texas Tech University, South Plains College, Texas A&M Forest Service, and SPAG Law Enforcement Training Academy’s Classrooms, Driving Course, and Firing Range.


SPAG has a reserved seat on the RTC/LRAA Board of Directors and SPAG Executive Director Tim Pierce is the current President of the RTC/LRAA Board of Directors. SPAG’s high level of involvement in base redevelopment discussions has assisted the RTC/LRAA in securing funds from EDA including 4 separate awards over the past 25 years. EDA investment has helped SPAG and RTC/LRAA build on and improve the economic development assets and infrastructure on the site.

EDA Awards:
  • 2001 Fiber Optics Network Installation
    $1.0 million EDA investment
    Redevelopment Benefit: The dual fiber loop ring investment brought high speed internet connectivity to the site and allowed for the later construction of a data center on the site.

  • 2013 Commercial Gate Entrance on State Hwy 114 Entrance
    $1.2 million EDA investment
    Redevelopment Benefit: Improvements to the site gate entrance off the arterial Highway 114 allowed for greater commercial trucking access to the site and has contributed to South Plains College opening a commercial driving license (CDL) program on the southern runway.


  • 2021 Airfield Security and Runway Upgrades
    $865,000 EDA investment
    Redevelopment Benefit: EDA investment in the runway and airport facilities have attracted two aerospace companies to the site as well as allowed other site users to use the runways for research projects and transportation including a TTU-led initiative to research the use of drones for agricultural monitoring and rural healthcare delivery services.
  • 2023 Business Park Expansion
    $2.0 million EDA investment
    Redevelopment Benefit: Due to past EDA investments and the work of SPAG and RTC staff, the existing business park facilities have run out of room to support new businesses or current customers needing to expand. This investment will create a much-needed new industrial space to attract even more site tenants.

To read more about EDA investment on the site, read EDA’s recent listing of their investments supporting the redevelopment of the site.


The NADO Research Foundation worked with Kelly Davila, Director of Regional Services at SPAG, to create tips and key lessons learned for regions with closed military installations.

Davila emphasized that EDDs have all the tools needed to support their regions through the redevelopment process and can utilize key partnerships with federal funders, experience managing complex programs, and connections with local communities to drive locally sourced base redevelopment that contributes to local and regional economies. Davila shared the following highlights for other regions:

Kelly Davila, Director of Regional Services, South Plains Association of Governments
  1. Collaborative Planning through the CEDS: SPAG played an integral role in the redevelopment of the Reese Air Force Base and is specifically cited in the enabling legislation for the Redevelopment Authority. Since the original BRAC notification, SPAG stayed engaged by coordinating various stakeholders, including regional local governments, community groups and incorporating the closure of the Reese AFB into our CEDS.  
  2. Liabilities into Assets: When an installation closes, all the extensive infrastructure and facilities left on the site can be viewed as liabilities rather than assets. SPAG was able to work with their local and regional stakeholders to redevelop the facilities, capitalizing on their existing infrastructure assets like the large runway and existing utilities, to find solutions that fit the needs of their regional economy.
  3. Resource Mobilization: SPAG was able to access EDA Revolving Loan Funds to address the short-term impact of the closure. The loans helped new and existing small businesses expand and hire from the newly available workforce. From there, SPAG began writing and administering a series of EDA grant awards beginning in 2001 to work directly on the infrastructure of the former base. Even as Lubbock and the regional economy began to absorb the economic shock of the base closure, SPAG ensured that the event stayed at the forefront of our ‘regional story’ for state and federal partners, funders, and area stakeholders.
  4. Technical Assistance: SPAG has provided technical assistance in various forms to the Reese Technology Center. From serving in a board position, to assisting in long-term planning, conducting economic analyses, and facilitating regional coordination efforts, SPAG has become an anchor partner to the Reese Technology Center. As the EDD, our organization has a deep understanding of the region and has utilized this role and knowledge to assist in on-going redevelopment efforts.
  5. Active Regional Role: EDDs facing a closure or economic event like this must show up for their region and stay engaged with area leadership. EDDs play an important role as the convener of regional stakeholders and can provide solutions and ideas to aid in base redevelopment. Not having the support and engagement of SPAG would have made this economically devastating event much worse.

This case study was prepared by NADO Regional Development Researcher Andrew Coker ([email protected]).
(June 2024)


Contact Joe D'Antonio

Regional Development Researcher Andrew Coker joined the NADO team in March of 2023 after spending two and a half years as the Regional Economic Resiliency Coordinator at West Central Arkansas Planning and Development District. Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College and a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

At NADO, Andrew conducts research on the newest economic and community development best practices from Economic Development Districts across the country. He helps produce easily digestible information on complex regional issues through case studies, tip sheets, and research reports. Andrew also hosts training and professional development opportunities including conference sessions and virtual webinars for member regional development organizations.

Andrew is one of our Missouri-based team members and enjoys reading and training for his next triathlon.

Jack Morgan came to the NADO team in 2022 after seven years with the National Association of Counties (NACo) as a Program and Senior Program Manager. Prior to NACo, Jack was a Policy Analyst for Friends of Southwest Virginia. Jack holds a bachelor’s in geography from Emory & Henry College and a master’s in geography from Appalachian State University.

As a NADO Senior Program Manager, Jack leads capacity-building and peer-learning work supporting energy communities in economic transition, regional resilience, and recreation economies. He also helps with the EDA-Austin training program Emerging Leaders.

Jack is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is a member of the American Planning Association (APA) in the Regional & Intergovernmental Planning division. He also serves on the Emory & Henry College Alumni Board.

Taking road trips, reading non-fiction, and indulging in top-notch barbecue and coffee round out Jack’s days. He loves maps, mountains, and of course, all things sports.

Karron Grant joined the NADO team in 2023 as Administrative Specialist and is the first face (or voice) you’ll see or hear when reaching out to NADO. As Administrative Specialist, Karron manages our database and coordinates NADO event operations. He ensures members’ needs are met, contact information stays current, and NADO’s office is running efficiently.

Karron came to NADO after four years in the classroom teaching at The New Century School and Old Mill Middle North where he received the Patriot of the Year award. He attended Towson University and the University of Maryland Global Campus and holds a bachelor’s in international studies and humanities.

Visiting art galleries and museums, playing basketball and bowling, and taking in movies and music are some of Karron’s interests and hobbies.

Deputy Executive Director Laurie Thompson has been with NADO for 25 years. Laurie helps keep the NADO and NADO Research Foundation wheels turning through management of the daily operations of the Research Foundation, securing financial resources and overseeing grants management, and helping execute NADO’s Annual Training Conference each year.

Laurie holds a bachelor’s in public affairs and government from Mount Vernon College and a master’s in health services administration from The George Washington University. Prior to NADO, Laurie spent time as a Field Specialist and an Eagle Staff Fund Director at First Nations Development Institute.

When she’s taking a rare reprieve from her NADO work, Laurie enjoys traveling domestically and internationally to visit friends and family.

Jamie McCormick joined the NADO team as a Policy Fellow first in 2019, then moved into her current role as Legislative Associate in 2021. As Legislative Associate, Jamie keeps NADO members apprised of any policy and regulatory issues and communicates NADO’s policy priorities to federal stakeholders and partner organizations. She is also the first stop for members with inquiries on policy issues. The planning and execution of NADO & DDAA’s annual Washington Conference is also managed by Jamie.

Jamie holds a dual bachelor’s in political science and international relations from The State University of New York College at Geneseo and a master’s in international development studies from The George Washington University. In addition to her roles at NADO, Jamie also worked as a Legislative Assistant for the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association.

Outside of her NADO work, Jamie is an active volunteer with the VOLO Kids Foundation and a fundraiser for YMCA youth programs. She is also NADO’s resident baker regularly providing treats for those in NADO’s D.C. office. Traveling, taking her pup on walks, and hiking in the northeast keep Jamie busy. 

Brett Schwartz began at NADO in 2012 as a Research Fellow after earning his J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law. The following year, he was promoted to Program Manager and has now been leading as an Associate Director since 2018. Brett is responsible for managing NADO’s Economic Development District Community of Practice (EDD CoP), as well as researching and monitoring the latest trends in regional economic development and resilience, including best practices for the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). With more than a decade of experience on the NADO team, Brett is a dynamic relationship builder helping connect and build capacity among the national network of regional development organizations.

Brett also holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s from Trinity College Dublin, as well as a certificate in mediation training. He’s a member of Catalyst Grantmakers of San Diego and Imperial Counties and was a participant in the 2021-22 Field Trips to the Future Cohort.

Brett is one of NADO’s West Coast team members residing in San Diego, CA where he enjoys spending time outdoors, attending concerts and festivals, and soaking up life as a parent of two young children.  

Communications Manager Katie Allison joined the team in 2023 to lead the strategic communication efforts of NADO. Katie creates and develops print and online materials, communicates NADO’s updates to members via weekly emails, and maintains content for and NADO’s social media channels. She also works with different departments to generate new ideas and strategies to effectively describe and promote the important work NADO is doing for EDDs and RDOs across the country.

An experienced nonprofit communications professional, Katie has worked for organizations in western North Carolina for nearly a decade. She holds a bachelor’s in communications from Wingate University where she was a four-year student athlete. Katie has also completed Vision Henderson County, a comprehensive leadership development program that promotes informed and committed civic volunteerism.

Katie stays busy trying to keep up with her two young sons whom she enjoys exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains with. Traveling to new and favorite places and cheering on the Atlanta Braves are some of her family’s favorite pastimes.

Senior Program Manager Ciara Ristig has been a member of the NADO team since 2021, and helps with NADO’s EDD Community of Practice, EDD staff capacity building and other grants on a range of subjects, including equity and solar energy. Before NADO, Ciara worked as a Planner for the County of Santa Barbara and an Assistant Project Manager for REM Consult. Ciara holds a bachelor’s in urban studies and French from Bryn Mawr and a master’s in urban studies from Ecole d’Urbanisme de Paris.

When she’s not traveling, you can find her outrigger paddling and serving on the board of the Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, CA, near her home base of Santa Barbara.

Carrie Kissel has been a member of the NADO team since 2005 when she began as a Research Fellow. She later moved into the roles of Program Manager in 2006, and then Associate Director in 2011. Carrie holds a bachelor’s in anthropology from Ball State University and a master’s in public anthropology from American University. As Associate Director, Carrie oversees NADO’s work in rural transportation and rural wealth creation. She provides technical assistance and support to rural regions on transportation and economic development issues and develops training and peer exchange events on transportation issues and rural wealth creation as an economic development strategy.

Carrie is a member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and secretary of TRB’s Rural Transportation Issues Coordinating Council. She is also a member of the American Anthropological Association and the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology.

Reading, gardening, hiking, and kayaking are a few of Carrie’s hobbies, and she organizes and facilitates a DEI/social justice-focused book club in her community.

Melissa Levy has worked at NADO as a Regional Development Researcher since February 2023 and is the Principal Consultant at her own firm specializing in wealth-based economic development consulting. With a career spanning nearly 30 years, Melissa brings a breadth of knowledge to her role as a Regional Development Researcher. Melissa provides in-depth research, coaching, and training on regional economic resilience, rural wealth creation strategies, and economic development.

Melissa is a North American Food Systems Network trained AgriCluster Resilience and Expansion (ACRE) facilitator and a WealthWorks coach, facilitator, and trainer. In addition to her professional work, Melissa serves on the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Council, on the board of the Hinesburg Community Resource Center, and on the Hinesburg Economic Development Committee.

A true outdoorswoman, Melissa enjoys cross country and downhill skiing, paddleboarding, hiking, biking, and kayaking, as well as yoga, and teaching Tai Chi.

Program Manager Krishna Kunapareddy began her role with NADO in February of 2023 after 14 years of service at Boonslick Regional Planning Commission in Missouri. Krishna manages NADO Research Foundation’s Planning and Environmental Linkages and Center for Environmental Excellence projects. In addition to researching and writing, Krishna also conducts virtual workshops on innovative tools and techniques related to transportation planning.

She holds an undergraduate degree from Andhra University and a master’s from JNT University in India, as well as a master’s in city and regional planning from the University of Texas at Arlington. Krishna is also a certified Smart Cities Academy Practitioner and holds the Location Advantage certificate from geographic information system software company ESRI.

In her spare time, Krishna volunteers with Mentors4College helping high schoolers better plan for their post-high school paths. She is also a dedicated advocate for documented H4 Dreamers.

Krystal DeLeon joined the NADO team in October of 2020 as Database & Grants Manger, but in January of 2022 transitioned to her current role as Operations Manager. Krystal keeps NADO running through behind the scenes work of invoicing, solving any database issues that may arise, producing membership reports, and much more. Her organizational skills and thorough knowledge help the NADO team operate more efficiently across all departments.

Prior to NADO, Krystal was the Conference Services Coordinator for State Services Organization. She is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), a licensed realtor, and holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Liberty University. When she’s not keeping NADO’s operations in order, Krystal enjoys running and rock climbing, and adventuring with her husband and son.

Senior Program Manager Bret Allphin joined NADO in April of 2022 bringing with him a wealth of knowledge after a 20-year career with Buckeye Hills Regional Council in Marietta, Ohio. In addition to his bachelor’s in political science and master’s in public affairs, Bret is licensed Geographical Information Systems Professional (GISP). He is NADO’s go-to team member for all things mapping while also supporting members with transportation and economic development technical assistance services.

An avid sports aficionado and former collegiate athlete, Bret enjoys cheering on his Cincinnati Reds, hitting the trails on his mountain bike, and improving his golf game whenever possible. Bret is an involved community member in Marietta dedicating much of his spare time to serving on local nonprofit boards.

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Joe McKinney serves as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Headquartered in Washington DC, NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s 500+ regional planning and development organizations.

Joe has thirty-one years of experience having served in city, county, regional, national association, and government management since 1991. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a candidate for a master’s degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

McKinney has provided congressional testimony on numerous occasions regarding the importance of regional development organizations in helping shape the nation’s economic growth. He is nationally recognized for promoting innovative solutions in areas such as planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, and aging services.

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