The federal government's military Base Realignment and Closure and other shifts are expected to add as many as 60,000 jobs - about 20,000 of them government employees - and 28,000 households in Maryland over more than a decade: military personnel, civilian employees, contractors and supporting roles. They also will heighten demand here for everything from transportation improvements to a well-educated work force.
Since 1999, Maryland's Department of Business and Economic Development has had an Office of Military and Federal Affairs. That same year, Brig. Gen. J. Michael Hayes retired from the Marine Corps, and he has run this office ever since. He commutes from Northern Virginia to Baltimore.
The office coordinates the interaction between state and local agencies and the federal government, mostly the military, as well as coordinating the management of the state issues that stem from the federal government's Base Realignment and Closure. It staffs the BRAC subcabinet led by Lt. Gov. Anthony G. Brown.
We talked with Hayes about the massive relocation.
When is everyone coming?
The vast majority of the moves are 2010 and 2011. There are a number of military bases in Maryland growing significantly, and we call it BRAC. But it all really isn't. In the case of Aberdeen [Proving Ground], they are beginning to come from New Jersey. We expect a couple hundred this summer and as many as 600 by next summer. When we say there are as many as 60,000 jobs coming, it is important to understand that those are three categories. There are BRAC government jobs which we call direct - those are the government employees. There are the indirect jobs. That means defense contractors, but it is more than that. The third category is induced jobs that come into being as a result of increased population or increased spending power - retail, restaurant, used cars. We have no expectation of 60,000 jobs by 2011. Some of these nongovernment jobs follow in the years that follow. You have probably seen numbers that exceed 20,000 at Fort Meade, and they include the business parks and the enhanced use lease [EUL] program, which allows the private sector to use property at Aberdeen and Fort Meade. The ratio of contractor to Department of Defense function is 1.2 to 1 and up to 3 to 1. For Aberdeen and Meade, the large numbers and the large impact on the communities are because of the defense contractors.
Maryland has five bases growing as a result of BRAC and other changes - Aberdeen Proving Ground, Fort Detrick, Fort Meade, National Naval Medical Center and Andrews Air Force Base. Where is everybody coming from?
At Fort Detrick, mainly it's an expansion of functions as opposed to people migrating from one place. At Andrews, it is primarily people in the Washington area. At Bethesda, it's D.C.-area. At Aberdeen, New Jersey and Virginia; at Meade, mostly from Northern Virginia.
What are the infrastructure issues?
The home jurisdictions all have somewhat different challenges. Frederick County and the city of Frederick have to deal with the growth there, and the traffic. The primary concern in Montgomery County is traffic associated with the increased patient load at Bethesda [another 1,862 per day]. Andrews will have some road issues. At Fort Meade, the challenges are largely transportation infrastructure. At Aberdeen, for Harford County, the challenges are both transportation infrastructure and to some extent water and sewer issues. There are some initiatives that are moving that ball forward. ... In the case of Fort Meade, the outreach is Howard County, Baltimore County, Anne Arundel County, obviously, Prince George's County, Montgomery County, Carroll County, even Queen Anne's County, and the cities of Baltimore and Laurel. In the case of Aberdeen, the planning goes beyond the state of Maryland. The Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor encompasses the planning efforts of the city of Baltimore, Baltimore County, Cecil County and Harford County. They are also working with two counties in Pennsylvania, sometimes a third, but also New Castle County in Delaware.
The challenges for Fort Meade are also determining when people are going to move from Northern Virginia. We think in many cases they will commute.
Let's talk about transportation and roads. Is the federal government providing money to Maryland to help ease that?
Yes, not to the extent obviously to which any of us would desire. But they have been helpful. ... There is no way that Maryland or any other state would have the resources to move as quickly as this BRAC timeline says. We are still within the last year of completing work in St. Mary's County relative to the BRAC from the 1990s. [Maryland Department of Transportation figures point to $1.7 billion for 31 BRAC-related projects over a six-year period that starts in July.
Roughly $100 million of that is slated for federal dollars. Officials say as planning progresses, figures may change.] Is it enough? Of course not.
What are some of the other hurdles?
One is the inevitability of another round of all this. ... We will be looking at encroachment, public- or private-sector nondefense development close to a base that is viewed as interfering with the mission of a base. ... Communities have to be very careful how they zone and what they allow around and close to the bases. For housing, if there is a challenge, where it manifests itself is in the tertiary job market, the service industry, where the salary is much lower and yet the jobs are in high-cost areas. ... There is right now not a degree-granting institution in northeastern Maryland. There are some partner arrangements being looked at with the Cecil County and Harford County community colleges with institutions like Towson University and UMBC. ... For the EULs, the preferred solution is payment in lieu of taxes; the developer is going to have to contribute toward the infrastructure solution.
What are some of the benefits?
Maryland has always played, because of the nature of our bases, a major role in the defense of our nation because of the research and development that goes on in Maryland. This makes it grow exponentially. Marylanders can be really proud of the fact that Maryland will be ... a part of the successful mission accomplishment of the men and women in uniform. Getting to the more pragmatic benefits:These are high-paying jobs. People with high-paying jobs pay taxes. Our first look at the personal income number of people was almost $500 million a year, and that was a very early study. There are those who would say the population growth, urban and rural, was going to take place but this is making it happen faster. BRAC is forcing Maryland to focus on doing this right.
One of the things we hear is that people don't want to move here. What do you make of that resistance, and what is being done about it?
We are trying to give them the maximum amount of information available for them to make choices. The subcabinet has met with the leadership at Fort Monmouth and the leadership in Northern Virginia of DISA [Defense Information Systems Agency]. We participate in relocation fairs. We help either facilitate or directly sponsor bus tours. Harford County in particular has been very active in accommodating hundreds of people at a time coming down and having a look-see. We are, through the Maryland Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, establishing one-stop shops. At Fort Monmouth we have a Maryland employee ... providing information on real estate, schools, transportation, taxes, on anything anybody wants. As they get more information, the numbers of people declaring they are coming here are going up. Clearly one of the issues is Aberdeen in particular and - while it is not true, at least from a perception standpoint - Fort Meade are viewed by some folks as rural. At Fort Monmouth, their mindset is that they are as much New Yorkers as they are New Jersey people. We market the city of Baltimore not only as a place to live, but a place of the arts, entertainment, sports and so forth. That is an easy sell at Fort Monmouth. There are people up there that say, 'The Atlantic beaches, I love the water.' Harford County, and to some extent part of Cecil, is marketing itself as, 'You are not leaving the water, you can get to it,' in terms of the shoreline, the Susquehanna, the Chesapeake.
What are the job opportunities for Marylanders and hot areas of study?
The jobs are in information technology, they are in general management and logistics, they are in the life sciences. The rest are literally everything else. You are talking about everything from hairdressers to McDonald's and used-car lots. We are beginning to let kids know at a very early age that in order to have these jobs - and it's not just the government jobs, it's quite often the jobs supporting the government jobs - you are going to have to have a security clearance. Your lifestyle matters. It is not just drugs. If you have abused, misused or misunderstood the whole credit world and your credit cards and you have put yourself in a bad way, you are unlikely to get a security clearance. People ask, if I have a 17-year-old finishing high school and going to college, what do you recommend relative to BRAC? I tell them, 'First of all manage your finances well. Take the hard sciences.' There will be jobs for every kind of degree imaginable. The jobs that have the most long-lasting future are going to be associated with IT and the life sciences.