Capital Gazette Communications - September 27, 2011, By KIRKLAND J. MURRAY, For The Capital
For more than six years, Anne Arundel County has been talking about the military's Base Realignment and Closure process as a major economic factor and creator of jobs surrounding Fort George G. Meade. As of Sept. 15, BRAC was officially done. The questions remain: Was BRAC the job accelerator we envisioned? Will there be a continuing affect of BRAC on our area? Are there still BRAC jobs out there?
BRAC has been a restructuring by the Pentagon to consolidate military installations throughout the country from 2005 to 2011, thereby saving an estimated $7 billion annually. As a result, Fort Meade has received 5,695 direct jobs at the Defense Information Systems Agency, Defense Media Activity, and Adjudication and Office of Hearings and Appeals Offices. The BRAC move is now complete, but the migration of direct jobs is only the tip of the BRAC iceberg. More importantly, BRAC represents a growing focus in our economy on a more technical and knowledge-based work force. As this shift grows, it will also create a greater need for secondary positions.
BRAC as a catalyst
BRAC has been the catalyst for a migration of jobs in the area surrounding Fort Meade that we are only beginning to see. The National Security Agency continues to expand, and we have witnessed the birth of the cybersecurity industry, represented by the creation of the U.S. Cyber Command. Private defense companies also are relocating to - or expanding in - in our region as government contracts increase. Although the pace of these moves has not been as fast as expected due to the recession, job opportunities are steadily increasing among defense contractors.
Robert Hannon, President and CEO of Anne Arundel Economic Development Corporation), said, "The migration of private jobs and companies is expected to run through 2015. Our office has tracked or assisted 74 technology-related companies relocating or expanding around Fort Meade to date." The expectation, according to AAEDC, is that there will be approximately two private defense contractor jobs for each Department of Defense position relocated to Fort Meade.
The effect on jobs
A significant percentage of the incoming contractor jobs will be highly technical and high paid positions. A major effect of BRAC growth has been an increase in our work force's skill set. Yet, fears that BRAC-related positions are limited to high-tech skills and advanced degrees are unfounded, since the related job growth requires a mix of skills.
Many engineering and IT positions require a high level of education and skill. However, these positions necessitate logistics management, financial administration, bookkeeping, telecommunications, human resources, data transcribing, and administration and clerical support. Government contracting and procurement are experiencing rapid job growth as well.
Tertiary job growth will also continue long after the official BRAC end date. The service industry surrounding Fort Meade is already growing. One has only to look at Odenton Town Center and Village South in Gambrills, both scheduled to be fully functional by 2012, to see that the most active part of the county for new commercial development is in the western part of the county.
The skills needed
Many of these BRAC-related positions require short-term occupational training that creates an opportunity for our dislocated workers to enhance their marketability through training. As part of a regional grant, Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation will work over the next 15 months to prepare our unemployed citizens with the skills to compete for these positions. Training will include certifications areas such as project management, administrative skills, finance, and contracting and procurement.
BRAC has brought about an increase in federal job opportunities and positions requiring security clearances in the area surrounding Fort Meade. Individuals interested in BRAC-related employment, therefore, should gain a better understanding of the federal application and security clearance processes to give themselves an edge in their job search.
Anne Arundel Career Centers offer free workshops to inform job seekers of these considerations.
BRAC is done, but the work force aftermath is only beginning. We can expect to see more job growth in the high-tech sectors, as well as in the support and tertiary jobs. The wait for BRAC is over, but we will continue to see the resulting jobs for years to come.
Anne Arundel Workforce Development Corporation operates seven One-Stop Career Centers and specialized programs that offer services to businesses and job seekers. Services include recruitment, retention and training funds for businesses; and job search and training assistance for job seekers.
Copyright © Capital Gazette Communications LLC, 2011.
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The information above is for general awareness only and does not necessarily reflect the views of the Office of Economic Adjustment or the Department of Defense as a whole.