By Adrian Maties, Associate Editor
The Maryland Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process is officially over. The $4 billion complexes at Aberdeen, Fort Meade, Fort Detrick in Frederick, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda and Joint Base Andrews in Prince Geroge’s County are finished, workers have relocated and documents and equipment have been moved.
Its effects, however, continue. Contractors are still moving to the area, new businesses are opening, apartments and offices are being built and schools have even begun instructing students on what they must do to qualify for a job in Maryland’s now-larger military-industrial complex.
The recession forced workers to reevaluate their plans so most of them accepted to move with their jobs. As part of the realignment, about 19,000 jobs were moved to five Maryland installations, of which 13,700 landed in the Baltimore region. By 2015 BRAC is expected to bring 45,000 to 60,000 jobs from defense contractors and other businesses.
Contractors have already added 7,000 jobs that the state knows of, as new buildings are built in both Harford and Anne Arundel. Factor in the non-BRAC growth at Fort Meade and the job total is already close to 45,000.
September 15 represented the official end date of BRAC. Maryland installations beat the deadline. The effort involved was massive and so was the cost. However, there are still vacant jobs. Organizations have recruited aggressively in Maryland in the last few years and they are still hiring.
As nearly half of Aberdeen Proving Ground’s workers are eligible for retirement in about five years, local, state and military officials are trying to direct students to science, math or engineering. Children are also warned against misbehavior that could keep them from working for the government or contractors, as security clearance is very important.
With the influx of new workers, traffic congestion has become a big problem. The recession affected state plans to widen roads and improve intersections, but state officials say they will continue to work toward the infrastructure improvements necessary to support BRAC.
BRAC is bringing in new money, new jobs, new businesses and new consumers, providing important help to the entire state of Maryland in a time of economic distress.