MADISON, Wis - Local business owners are excited to welcome the F-35 fighter jets to Madison because that means they get to keep one of their biggest customer bases.
"We love having them here. They definitely keep the business going," said Daniel Sinclair, a bartender at Callahan's Sports Pub.
The restaurant is just down the street from the 115th Fighter Wing at Truax Field. The base employs 1,200 airmen and women.
Sinclair said 80 percent of their lunch crowd is from the base.
"That adds up. If you're doing anywhere between 10 and 20 tickets (for the) military a day, I mean if your guest's check average is $10, that's $100, $200 a day in business. Definitely something we want to keep going," said Sinclair.
On Thursday, the Air Force announced the 115th Fighter Wing has been chosen to host an F-35A Operational Wing mission beginning in early 2023.
Before the announcement, local business owners were fearful that without the F-35 jets coming to Madison, the base would phase out along with the F-16 jets the crew is retiring soon.
"With all those guys staying, and hopefully creating new jobs, it's either going to maintain or grow our business," said Tom Alswager, owner of The Lazy Oaf Lounge.
The Greater Madison Chamber of Commerce estimates Truax employees contribute approximately $100 million to the region each year. Officials hope the trend continues with the arrival of the fighter jets and for years to come.
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