The possibility of an extended crisis is what could spook contractors in the long run, Richardson warned. That, coupled with the recent federal furloughs, could affect business decisions and future contracts and, ultimately, whether a particular contractor stays in Harford, he said.
Battelle's Delaney said of the situation: "We don't like it, that's for sure. Some of the work we do is so important that it's not touched by this, such as labs for the national Department of Energy."
If circumstances stay dicey, however, "we could start seeing some stop-work orders," she said.
As the shutdown loomed Monday, Harford County Executive David Craig took the opportunity to blast the federal Affordable Health Care Act as the root cause of the federal budget stalemate.
Craig, a Republican who is running for governor, said Maryland's cheapest "Obamacare" plan will still cost 83 percent more than the cheapest plan sold in the state this year.
"The Affordable Care Act has become a flash point in Congressional negotiations to continue government operations and for good reason. The unpleasant surprise with this law is that it's not really affordable at all," Craig said in a statement.
"People are struggling with the worst economic recovery in our lifetimes, have faced down record tax, fee and toll increases, and now they are forced to pay 83 [percent] higher insurance costs," the statement continued. "This is a massive health care tax politicians are attempting to brand as something else, and they are forcing people to buy it."
Despite the political posturing, even at the local level, Aberdeen Mayor Michael E. Bennett said most residents do not have anything to fear immediately.
"I'm sure there will be some impact, but not necessarily right away," Bennett, a Democrat, said. "Our employees won't be affected and we won't lay anyone off."
Bennett said the city will continue to provide "essential services," such as water and sewage service to Aberdeen Proving Ground, which contracts with the city for the service. He said some federal run services may be impacted, but overall he said the city is prepared to deal with the Capitol Hill fallout.
Businesses gird for impact
Harford area businesses also are trying to anticipate how the outcome of federal budget negotiations may adversely impact their revenues.
An assistant manager of Panera Bread in Aberdeen, about five minutes from APG's main employee and contractor entrance, said a government shutdown would be "devastating."
John Deveau, who has been a manager at Panera for about one year, said the last government furlough, resulting from earlier Washington budget battles, affected sales at the bakery and cafe.
"You didn't even have to look at the sales to see the impact," Deveau said. "It was noticeably different. You could just look around the cafe and see the difference. The place was empty."
Howard Klein, spokesperson for Klein's ShopRite in Aberdeen, said the grocery store has not put any measures in place to deal with the potential stall in government funding. Klein, whose company has half a dozen supermarkets in Harford, said they will continue "business as usual."
Speaking at a White House press conference late Monday afternoon, Obama said a shutdown would "throw a wrench into the gears" in the economy struggling to recover, "putting the American people's hard earned progress in jeopardy."
During the government shutdown, citizens will still receive social services, Medicare and unemployment checks. Postal services and non-federal run passport offices would still run and many government employees such as air traffic controllers, prison guards and border controllers would continue to work, but would see a delay in their paychecks.
But the President also warned other government agencies such as the NASA and historic attractions, like the Smithsonian Museum, will go dark.
Obama said Congress will not be able to use the budget negotiations and the threat of the government shutdown to get rid of the Affordable Care Act.
"The Affordable Care Act is moving forward and you can't shut it down," he said.