Troops beefing up communities' economy

FORT BRAGG Soldiers and airmen have an economic impact on places like Cumberland County and when the troops head off to war in large numbers, it can make staying in business a struggle.

With the troops' recent return, business owners are offering all types of incentives to lure soldiers who are back from war with pockets full of money.

"But the soldiers coming back has made a tremendous impact, because our service department is very active these days," Harley Davison Dealer John Tew said. "Our parts and accessories are better than sales last year this time, cause we track them and the same thing with motor clothes."

The troops are buying more than just accessories. SFC Roy Hibbetts just got back from Afghanistan two weeks ago and he has already bought a present for himself -- a brand new Harley. But he's also bought a house, all thanks to his combat deployment.

"If I didn't deploy, I wouldn't be able to get anything," Hibbetts said. "So, extra money, extra stuff. I paid off some loans, some old debts."

"You see a lot of the younger soldiers they're going to come with pockets full of cash because they haven't had anything to spend their money on for a year," Fort Bragg soldier CW2 Kenny Rice said. "So yeah, they have the ability to buy the nice new cars or the $25,000 motorcycles and of course they're going to do it."

But it's not just the big ticket items like motorcycles and cars that are being swept up.

Gwen Bell has been selling jewelry at Cross Creek Mall for years and she says business was slow over summer, but she noticed an increase in sales when the troops started coming back in late August.

"A lot of engagement rings," Bell said. "I think they're very grateful that their girlfriends and their wives have been supportive for the year they were gone, taking care of their families and they're showing their appreciation. They are buying diamonds."

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