Questions abound over the viability of real economic impact surrounding the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and the influx of jobs it will bring to Joint Base Andrews. Despite the efforts of Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown and several Prince George’s County officials, some think the impact could be minimal compared to the BRAC programs at Ft. Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground.

“BRAC will create 60,000 new jobs in Maryland and support our efforts to strengthen our innovative economy, said Shaun Adamec, spokesman for O’Malley. “The largest impact will happen at Ft. Meade and Aberdeen Proving Ground because the missions at those installations are based on R&D.”

The base is expected to gain over 4,000 new jobs from BRAC and the Air Force and Air National Guard moving their headquarters from Virginia. In preparation for that, Gov. Martin O’Malley created a BRAC sub-cabinet position and named Brown chair. While some say the impact may pale in comparison to Ft. Meade and Aberdeen, Brown has been doing all he can to make sure the surrounding community benefits from the expansion.

Brown has worked with the base and Andrews has agreed to increase its minority business procurement to 50 percent of awards. According to the governor’s office it’s expected to generate at least $10 million in additional procurement opportunities for local and minority-owned businesses.

“The decision to increase the Joint Base Andrews’ small business goal to 50 percent of contacts will generate new revenue in our local economy and create new jobs in our communities,” said Brown in statement. “In Maryland, BRAC is a four letter word for ‘jobs’ and ‘economic prosperity.’ Over the last four years, Governor O’Malley and I have worked closely with the BRAC installations – including Andrews – and the small and minority-owned business community to maintain a strong grip on the opportunities ahead of us.”

Brown also decided to partner with local colleges to include them on the project as well. He’s launched BRAC Internship Information Centers at the University of Maryland and Morgan State. He’s wants to make sure that Maryland residents can take advantage of any new positions available at Andrews.

“Morgan State is pleased to be leading the way as the first university in the state to help launch the new BRAC Internship Information Center website, said David Wilson, Ph.D., president of Morgan State in a statement. “We certainly recognize the importance of BRAC to the State of Maryland and our students know how important it is to have access to great internship opportunities. This represents a win-win for Morgan, our students and employers in the region.”

Mel Franklin, democratic candidate for District 9 where Andrews is located, has been a staunch proponent of maximizing the economic impact of the influx of employees. He wants to create a national defense and technology corridor that would take full advantage of the Branch Ave Metro Station. In addition to that he wants to create an urban transit hub tax credit which would stimulate more economic investment in the immediate area surrounding the base.

 

George Barnette

Special to the AFRO