More federal dollars are primed to flow into Beaufort as three significant contracts were awarded to perform work in the county and surrounding area. Two contracts, awarded to Veraxx Engineering Corp of Chantilly, Virginia and Nakapuna Solutions, LLC of Arlington, Virginia will execute portions of their contract’s performance in Beaufort County. Specifically, Veraxx Engineering will dedicate roughly $2 million to fielding an upgrade of the Marine Corps tactical Environment (TEn) at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Beaufort and Nakapuna Solutions will use a nearly $29 million award to modernize on-base networks at MCAS Beaufort and Marine Corps Recruiting Depot (MCRD) Parris Island as well as at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina. The third contract will use the entirety of its $10 million dollar award for a somewhat unique purpose: the construction of a low-rise cryogenics facility at MCAS Beaufort.
A cryogenics facility sounds like it would be more at home in a sci-fi novel than at a Marine base, but cryogenics serve multiple functions in support of the newest fighter aircraft in America’s arsenal. The servicemembers assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron 31 regularly use cryogenic processes to synthesize liquid oxygen and nitrogen from surrounding air and those elements are provided in both liquid and gaseous form to various systems on Marine aircraft. High-purity oxygen is used in air tanks for aircraft pilots to consume in-flight but also deployed in bursts over the front of heat-seeking missiles that are deployed. This prevents a missile from seeing the aircraft that fired it. Nitrogen is used in tires, seat pans, and nitrogen servicing carts – all key components to aircraft functions and maintenance.
Contracts such as these represent a significant portion of the civilian-military partnerships alive and well in Beaufort County. Even though these contracts specifically are not conducted by corporations headquartered in Beaufort or South Carolina, their work will be performed in the Beaufort region and provide funding and jobs to local communities. According to the June 2022 analysis sponsored by the South Carolina Department of Veterans’ Affairs, defense contracts such as these provided $3.2 billion to the South Carolina economy and supported a significant portion of the Beaufort Region’s 21,241 defense industry-supported jobs.
Multiple factors project to a steady stream of defense contracts flowing into the Beaufort Region. Although Naval Hospital Beaufort is set to downsize, the construction of its partial replacement on MCAS Beaufort is a planned $150 million effort requiring multiple construction contracts. Additionally, the recent construction of a new, $79 million fighter jet hanger at MCAS Beaufort ensures that a robust training mission will continue at the post to support numerous civilian jobs and contracts. Finally, MCRD Parris Island’s steady stream of renovations and environmentally-focused sustainability projects continue to provide benefits and funding for the local economy. Overall, Beaufort County and its tenant bases and contractors will continue to enjoy the foundations of successful working relationships for many years to come.