#7 Maximizing Sheppard Air Force Base’s Impact

Objective: Support SAFB by pursuing new missions, leveraging opportunities for economic growth, and enhancing experiences for base personnel and families.

Sheppard Air Force Base is critical to the future success and prosperity of Wichita Falls. The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts estimates that as of 2019, SAFB supported more than 22,000 direct and indirect jobs and had a statewide economic impact of more than $4.6 billion. This Key Initiative focuses on ensuring the long-term success of SAFB. It focuses on several ways in which the community can support the base and leverage its presence to promote economic growth.

Foremost among them is seeking to expand the base’s mission. Input participants praised the work of the nonprofit Sheppard Military Affairs Committee (SMAC) and its partners and expressed confidence that the current SAFB mission is sustainable and secure.

Stakeholders said the time is now right to go further and advocate for an expanded mission at SAFB. Individuals with knowledge of military affairs said this will likely require the community to increase its presence in the Washington, D.C. area by retaining a consulting partner who can help the community refine its messaging and increase the visibility of its advocacy efforts. Stakeholders said that there is further potential for the base to support economic growth in export-oriented sectors through public-private partnerships. One specific near-term opportunity is developing an industrial site or sites adjacent to the Wichita Falls Regional Airport that would be attractive to private aviation and aerospace companies. Unlocking this potential would require working with SAFB leadership, the Department of Defense, and other relevant partners to secure permission for additional private users to utilize the bases runways and supportive facilities.

Strengthening the community’s support for SAFB will also involve improving experiences for base personnel and their families. This could involve aesthetic improvements near the base to build upon the momentum of the recently completed Main Gate improvement project. It could also entail pursuing developments and businesses that would appeal to Airmen in Training and younger base personnel.


Goodfellow AFB / San Angelo public-private partnerships (San Angelo, TX)
Grand Sky Joint Use Agreement (Grand Forks County, ND)


1. Continue the work of the Sheppard Military Affairs Committee (SMAC)

  • Support SMAC and ensure that it is sufficiently resourced and staffed to continue its advocacy in support of sustaining and expanding the mission at SAFB
  • Leverage SMAC’s SWOT Analysis and work with SAFB leadership, SMAC, external advisers, and other relevant parties to determine ways in which the public and private sectors in Wichita Falls can support the pursuit of new missions for SAFB

2. Enhance messaging and resources for advocacy at the federal level

  • Retain the services of a military affairs consultancy, government relations firm, or similar adviser based in the Washington, D.C. area to increase the visibility of SAFB and the Wichita Falls region with key decision-makers at the federal level
  • Work with this external partner to develop messaging and strategies to both sustain the existing SAFB mission and pursue new opportunities

3. Pursue public and private investments to enhance quality of life for military personnel and families

  • Build upon the momentum of the Main Gate improvement project to enhance aesthetics and access to SAFB; ensure that the Main Gate project and all other capital improvements are well-maintained on a long-term basis
  • Seek upgrades to both the public and private realms adjacent to SAFB, particularly along Burkburnett Road
  • Upgrade sidewalks and install safe pedestrian crossings to help base personnel access businesses; incentivize improvements to commercial centers adjacent to the base
  • With SMAC, the City, and other partners, aggressively pursue state and federal grants and other monies to fund needed upgrades adjacent to the base
  • Work with base leadership and potential private investors to identify additional entertainment options or amenities that could be developed near the base
  • Pursue increased bicycle connectivity (see Recommended Action #3 in Key Initiative #11) and improved transit connectivity to enhanced college town amenities that may appeal to Airmen in Training and other base personnel (see Recommended Action #2 in Key Initiative #9)

4. Strengthen a collaborative framework for pursuing public-private partnerships

  • Continue to work with SAFB leadership, Department of Defense officials, SMAC, economic development professionals, and other key stakeholders to identify opportunities for public-private partnerships that support economic growth
  • If necessary, establish a collaborative task force of local partners to pursue specific opportunities
  • Engage higher education institutions to assess interest in co-locating education and training programs at the base, either as a standalone operation or in support of a specific public-private partnership opportunity

5. Pursue the development of new Airport-adjacent industrial sites with runway access

  • Continue to pursue the development of potential industrial site(s) adjacent to the Wichita Falls Regional Airport
  • Through the Chamber, develop a “marketing prospectus” that identifies potential end-users for the development and helps establish a business case for public investment
  • Work with SMAC, SAFB officials, and the Department of Defense to secure agreements for use of SAFB runways and supportive facilities that would be necessary to make the development viable
  • Work with the WFEDC and other relevant partners to develop resources for site planning, access, and preparation

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