Base Plan Would Add 45,000 Jobs, Md. Predicts

By Raymond McCaffrey
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, February 9, 2007

Maryland would gain more than 45,000 federal and private-sector jobs as part of a Pentagon reorganization of military bases that will add workers to installations such as Fort Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground, according to a report to be released today.

The study by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development determined that Harford County, the location of Aberdeen Proving Ground, would gain 12,712 jobs, and Anne Arundel County, home to Fort Meade, would get 10,049 positions.

An additional 4,236 jobs would come to Montgomery, 3,463 to Prince George's and 2,259 to Howard counties, and thousands more to the Baltimore region.

"This is the single largest job growth in Maryland since World War II," said Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown (D), who is coordinating the state's response to the federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission plan, known as BRAC.

"I'm enthusiastic about the challenges that we have in front of us," he said.

The study, funded by the U.S. Department of Labor, comes as federal, state and county officials struggle with how to accommodate the additional workers generated as the military consolidates jobs. The report cites projections that BRAC would create a demand for more than 25,000 homes in eight Maryland counties, which local officials say would increase the burden on crowded schools and roads.

Important to the planning process, officials say, will be lining up road-building and school construction projects to correspond with the arrival of new workers.

BRAC will involve a redeployment of workers from military installations closer to Washington. Fort Belvoir in southern Fairfax County also stands to add tens of thousands of jobs, with defense contractors and related businesses following the military workforce.

Technically, the BRAC shifts would move 5,400 jobs to Fort Meade and 2,176 jobs to Aberdeen. But those figures are expected to grow quickly as contractors relocate their offices.

The overwhelming majority of new homes in Maryland would come with the personnel shifts at those two bases, with 1.9 percent of the new households coming from job growth at Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's, according to the state Planning Department. The effect of growth at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda was neutralized by a corresponding shift of positions there from Walter Reed Army Medical Center, about six miles away.

"The report is beginning to give us a baseline of what to expect in terms of the influx of jobs, the influx of households and the demands that that will place on the infrastructure, whether that be transportation, schools, workforce," Brown said.

Brown said state officials hope to develop an "action-oriented strategic plan" to deal with BRAC by mid-fall. Meanwhile, county executives representing affected areas are working to create a priority list to try to get key funding for projects. The first phase of the transfer of workers is set to begin by 2009.

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