Call it the BRAC factor paying off.
Several Maryland military bases have made substantial job gains in the past year, according to a new state list. Officials say they are pleased with how the Pentagon’s base realignment and closure program has progressed in the past seven years, although the number of private-sector job gains has fallen thousands short of what was projected.
“We’ve met our BRAC deadlines,” said retired Marine Brig. Gen. J. Michael Hayes, program director of the Office of Military and Federal Affairs at the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. “The construction around the bases has mostly been done ahead of schedule.”
A list of major employers — excluding state and local government agencies — compiled recently by DBED shows Fort Meade in Central Maryland with the most employees in the state by far with 56,700, more than 12,000 more than a year ago. That figure could include embedded contractors, as a firm job figure for the Anne Arundel County base is hard to obtain, Hayes said.
“It will always be an estimate. The reporting is not pure,” he said.
The changes in job figures also could stem from differences in methodology on how employers count workers from year to year, DBED officials say.
In 2005, federal officials approved the BRAC plan and projected about 27,000 direct job gains to Maryland by late 2011 from the BRAC process, with 12,000 at Fort Meade alone. As many as 30,000 other contracting and support jobs were forecast.
The direct jobs projections are close at Aberdeen Proving Ground, according to Harford County figures. Aberdeen, where weapons are tested, was expected to gain about 8,800 direct jobs through such additions as the Army’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance operation that moved from Fort Monmouth, N.J.
Aberdeen’s BRAC-related job increase has been closer to 8,500, only about 300 less than projected, according to Harford County figures. But the private contracting and support positions have reached only 6,000 there, short of the 7,500 to 10,000 projected there, Hayes said.
The Great Recession was a key factor behind the lower-than-projected private contractor figures, he said.
“It’s not the way we originally modeled it, but it’s still a good story,” Hayes said.
Baltimore developer St. John Properties is overseeing the Government and Technology Enterprise office and technology park at Aberdeen and has more than 600,000 square feet leased out there. Among the tenants are Falls Church, Va., information technology contractor Computer Sciences Corp., Chicago aerospace giant Boeing and McLean, Va., military contractor Science Applications International Corp.
The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development operates a website with resources for those moving to the state due to BRAC changes at mdhousing.org/Website/BRAC. There have been far more commuters involved with the moves at Fort Meade than those at Aberdeen, Hayes said.
Fort Meade job projections not yet met
At Fort Meade, which is welcoming the headquarters of the Defense Information Systems Agency from Northern Virginia, the direct job growth is about 6,000, according to Anne Arundel County figures. That direct growth is about half of what was originally projected, but officials expect agencies to add more jobs in coming years.
More than two dozen new military contractors have established offices at the Odenton base, and many more expanded. More than 1.4 million square feet of office space and laboratories has been built at Fort Meade, with some 5.4 million more square feet of office space in the works, according to the county.
In addition, the National Security Agency is expanding in that area, with the first 1.8 million-square-foot phase that will add a total of 6,500 employees expected to be completed by 2015.
The Joint Base Andrews Naval Air Facility in Camp Springs, which was projected for 3,000 direct job gains, added more than 5,000 employees in the past year, though some of those are likely embedded contractors, according to DBED.
Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, projected to add 2,400 jobs, added about 700 more in the past year, to go with a 2,900-job gain the previous year, according to DBED.
Other significant job gains by employers in Maryland in the past year include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which has its headquarters in Silver Spring, up 2,720; Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System in Baltimore, up 1,520; and MedStar Health in Columbia, up 920.
Among the employers that saw jobs decline in the state were the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, down 1,140; Bethesda military and aerospace giant Lockheed Martin, down 1,000; and Arlington, Va., military and aerospace giant Northrop Grumman, which has several locations in Maryland, down 720.