While many states have seen military jobs disappear due to the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), Maryland is one of the few states that have benefited from the BRAC moves by gaining 26,000 direct positions, with Aberdeen Proving Ground and Fort George G. Meade receiving the most growth.
Aberdeen Proving Ground received 8,500 federal jobs and 6,000 private sector workers from companies vying for federal contracts due to BRAC, which has increased the total population in the base to more than 21,000, said James Richardson, Harford County’s director of economic development.
The BRAC moves have also established the Maryland area as a hotbed for cybersecurity companies and helped Aberdeen Proving Ground become a major hub for the Army’s research and development of new technologies.
Plus, BRAC “also sets up Aberdeen Proving Ground to be a receiving zone for future growth from the military,” said Matthew Holbrook, a regional partner of St. John Properties Inc., a commercial real estate company that leases 416 acres within Aberdeen Proving Ground called the Government and Technology Enterprise (GATE) office and technology park. Holbrook expects more contractor jobs to come inside GATE, which currently has 596,000 square feet leased out and may be expanded to 2 million to 3 million square feet in the future.
Despite this growth inside Aberdeen Proving Ground, expectations fell far short outside the installation. When Fort Monmouth, N.J. closed in September 2011 and brought contractors to Aberdeen, the demand for office space was less than expected. With many of the top contractors already established in Aberdeen, hundreds of thousands of square feet of office space outside the fence is vacant, said Joe Bradley, vice president of MacKenzie Commercial Real Estate Services, in the Washington Business Journal. Some contractors have simply kept their main offices out of state and leased only enough space in Maryland for their bidding operations, he said.
Fort Meade in Anne Arundel County saw 6,200 more jobs as a result of BRAC. It is also expected to get more than 4,000 jobs from the National Security Agency and other Army and DoD growth, and more than 10,000 jobs from Enhanced Use Lease (EUL) related growth over time, according to the Maryland Department of Transportation.
“This BRAC process and what we have coming to the state of Maryland is the largest economic growth in Maryland since World War II,” said U.S. Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md. “Fort Meade will probably be the single largest economic engine in Maryland.”