Marines Return Boosts Business

Husbands, wives, parents and children are NOT the only ones who are happy to see Marines coming back to Camp Lejeune. The "welcome home" signs are as plentiful on storefronts as they are along the base fences. Some 17-thousand Marines and sailors are returning stateside as the Second Marine Expeditionary Force hands over operational command in Iraq to Marines from the West Coast. Some Jacksonville businesspeople have a personal connection, welcoming home a loved one who's been in harm's way. But for others, it comes down to dollars and cents. Bruce Gombar is a retired Marine officer. He's also Onslow County's economic development director. He says Marines returning from the hardships of deployments love to go on a spending spree -- and they can, with the combat pay that's been piling up at home. One business owner says he can see it. Jeff Katz, who manages an electronics store, says business is up 50 percent since