Alan Dixon was a great asset to Southwestern Illinois throughout his years in local and state office that included two distinguished terms in the United States Senate. Many are also familiar with his subsequent service to the nation as chairman of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) in 1994-95, where he won great praise for his fairness and understanding during a very difficult time for many military communities.
Less well-known, however, is the critical role that Senator Dixon played in our region’s successful mobilization leading up to and during the 2005 BRAC process, after he had returned to private practice. That BRAC round — which resulted in 25 major military installations being shut down and another 24 radically realigned — posed a very real threat to operations at Scott Air Force Base. In fact, Scott’s continued existence was challenged by leaders in other regions who actively lobbied for Scott’s commands and assets to be relocated to their own bases.
As we have done once again during the past year, the Southwestern Illinois Military Assets Retention and Expansion Task Force, co-sponsored by St. Clair County, Madison County and the Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois, determined to meet the 2005 BRAC challenge head-on. And to our good fortune, Alan Dixon agreed to participate as a consultant to guide our efforts through to a successful outcome for Scott. His leadership and relationships, particularly with the congressional delegation and Congressman Jerry Costello, provided a unique combination of knowledge, access and expertise. Throughout the process, Senator Dixon displayed his characteristic enthusiasm and optimism for the job at hand. But in this case, he was clearly motivated most of all by his love of, and care for, the communities and people of his own hometown and region.
Contrary to some early predictions, the 2005 BRAC process brought about positive change for Scott, with additional missions and facilities all contributing to Scott’s record-high employment and over $3.1 billion regional economic impact. This growth and success is attributable in no small part to Alan Dixon’s wise strategic counsel for the Leadership Council’s efforts – and rightly should stand as part of the lasting legacy of “The Gentleman from Illinois.”
Executive Director, Leadership Council Southwestern Illinois