BRAC job projections for Harford reduced

The Baltimore Sun

Harford County would get fewer jobs than projected from the expansion coming to Aberdeen Proving Ground, according to a new demographics study, and county officials say commercial construction must be accelerated.

Those issues are likely to dominate a town hall meeting in Edgewood on Wednesday, when government officials provide an update on Harford's preparations for BRAC, the base expansion that promises to bring about 19,000 jobs to APG.

The new projection of additional jobs was about 3,500 less than county officials' previous estimates, said James Richardson, the county's economic development director.

"I was surprised," Richardson said. "The numbers are lower than what we would like, but there will be plenty enough jobs to go around."

The study, conducted by an economic policy consulting firm for government leaders in BRAC-affected jurisdictions, was presented at a news conference Friday in Aberdeen.

Harford officials need to boost office construction that will serve the hundreds of military contractors who will accompany the expansion. Baltimore County is far ahead of Harford, particularly along the Route 43 corridor near Interstate 95, officials said.

"My concern is that we have a lot planned on the books, but unlike Route 43, we have nothing on the ground," Richardson said. "We have to get going so we can capture as many of these jobs as possible."

Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, who is scheduled to attend the meeting Wednesday, will provide a recap of federal funding allocated last week for military construction. APG will receive $287 million for projects on the 73,000-acre base.

Richardson will highlight key points from the demographics study, which attempts to pinpoint how many new jobs and residents will land in each county expected to be affected by the influx.

"We are moving at a good pace, primarily in the jobs area," Richardson said. "Many positions will be coming to Aberdeen without an incumbent in them."

The county is adhering to its BRAC action plan that focuses on land use, transportation, public safety and work force development, officials said.

"We will talk about what has been done, what has been added and what has been deleted," Richardson said.

He will provide details on transportation improvements, including proposed mass transit upgrades and the multi-modal center anticipated for the town of Aberdeen.

The federal government recently denied a $5 million work force grant to Harford, saying the county exceeded minimum income requirements, officials said.

But the Senate has approved millions in federal funds for military construction at APG, including $141 for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance facilities and $104 million to support intelligence and information warfare efforts. Plans also include a $27 million research lab dedicated to chemical-biological defense and $2.9 million for the smaller Army Research Lab.

The measure provides $12.2 million to build a facility for conducting high-speed vehicle testing on a 4.5-mile track.

The meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Edgewood High School, 2415 Willoughby Beach Road. Information: 410-638-3059.

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