- The Washington Times - Friday, April 27, 2007

ELLICOTT CITY, Md. (AP) — So when will thousands of new jobs really begin coming to the Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort Meade? And exactly how many are coming?

Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and base officials discussed the latest estimates yesterday during a panel organized by the Associated Press for a Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Press Association conference.

New employees will start showing up noticeably in 2009, with a “big spike” arriving in 2010 and 2011, said George Mercer, a spokesman for the proving ground in Harford County. About 8,200 direct jobs are projected to come to the facility.

“You will see some before that and it’ll start increasing in 2009, but 2010-2011 is when you’re going to see a lot of new people,” Mr. Mercer said.

Fort Meade, located in Anne Arundel County, is expected to receive the bulk of its nearly 5,700 new jobs in 2011, said Col. Kenneth McCreedy, Fort Meade’s installation commander.

Most of those jobs will be coming from the transfer of the Defense Information Systems Agency, which will need a new, 1 million-square-foot facility, Col. McCreedy said.

The estimated number of people who will be coming remains in flux. Overall, Mr. Brown said between 14,000 and 16,000 direct jobs are expected to come to Maryland. The numbers rise to between 45,000 and 60,000 when indirect jobs, including mostly contractors, are added.

Mr. Brown, who was put in charge of a subcabinet created by Gov. Martin O’Malley to prepare for the coming development resulting from the military’s 2005 base realignment and closure policy, underscored that the numbers are estimates.

“They provide a basis to begin sound planning, which is what we’ve done,” Mr. Brown said.

Mr. O’Malley used part of his 100th day in office Thursday taking an aerial tour of the proving ground to better gauge how development is being planned in and around the 72,000-acre facility. Mr. Brown took a ground tour before meeting with military officials to discuss how things are going. A similar meeting is planned for next month at Fort Meade.

Transportation needs remain a chief concern. Work force training, increasing mass transit capabilities, making affordable housing available and finding water sources also top the list.

“Today, there are some specifics that we’re already aware of, and they’re not going to be cheap,” Mr. Brown said. “The challenges are costly, and they’re going to be just that — challenges.”

In the state’s six-year transportation planning cycle, 54 BRAC-specific projects have been mentioned, with costs totaling an estimated $16.2 billion. Funding for about $6 billion has been identified, Mr. Brown said.

State and local officials also are focusing on improving public transportation, such as light rail and MARC.

The expenses come as the state faces a projected structural deficit of as much as $5 billion over the next four years. However, the state is poised for a big economic lift from the influx of people, particularly from additional property and income taxes from the new residents — many of whom will have high-paying jobs.

“BRAC is going to pay for itself in more ways than one,” Mr. Brown said.

Col. McCreedy pointed out that Maryland experienced similar changes during World War I.

“This is our generation’s experience with that kind of change,” Col. McCreedy said.

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