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Monday, January 30, 2012 - 2:00am

Company Prepares For Military Cuts

Around Georgia’s nine military bases, companies that cater to the military are bracing for millions of dollars in Defense Department budget cuts.

President Obama will release a budget next month that’s likely to include $500 million in cuts to the Defense Department.

Already, Robins Air Force Base has announced job cuts. And Fort Benning officials are projecting they’ll train 30,000 fewer troops at the Columbus base.

“They’re talking about 97,000 troops coming through Fort Benning. That’s about what we had in 2007, so if that’s what happens, I don’t know that it will be disastrous locally,” said Paul Voorhees, owner of Ranger Joe’s, which sells military and law enforcement gear at Benning and Fort Stewart near Savannah

But Voorhees said if federal cuts reduce the size of the armed forces nationally, he expects to take a hit in his national online and mail-order sales.

Defense contracts in Georgia totaled more than $7 billion in 2009. Much of that is for aircraft manufacturing and companies like Lockheed Martin in Cobb County.

But billions go to smaller firms, like Columbus-based Ranger Joe’s selling everything from boots and socks to field gear like hydration equipment.

Voorhees said his 120-employee firm has already seen government contracts start to dry up.

“We bid on government bidding and now that has really slowed down a lot ‘cause [with] people coming back, [the Army has] a surplus of stuff so they don’t really need to buy government contract stuff anymore right now,” Voorhees said.

Voorhees says Ranger Joe’s has no debt and he can tighten its belt if needed.

He wouldn’t reveal the company’s total revenue. But he said he has have anywhere from 20 to 100 contracts a month.

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