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NORFOLK (AP) -- The Navy says its economic impact in Hampton Roads grew by $1.5 billion in the past fiscal year.

Navy officials said Thursday that the total direct economic impact in the region reached nearly $15 billion in the 2011 fiscal year.

While the annual payroll remained steady at about $8.5 billion, procurement expenditures increased by about $1.1 billion to about $6.3 billion.

In the past year, the number of ships home ported in Hampton Roads increased by three to 87. The number of aircraft squadrons that call the area home also increased by one to 37.

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