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Seminar: Maryland growth to be felt in Pennsylvania

August 28, 2008|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, PA. -- Demographics and economics influenced by defense spending are pushing people from Maryland into the border counties of Pennsylvania, but many new residents will continue working south of the Mason-Dixon Line.

About 60 people attended a seminar Wednesday on growth pressures from Maryland to learn what to expect as that state adds thousands of Department of Defense and related jobs in the next few years.

"They're coming," said L. Michael Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp. (FCADC).

The FCADC, county Planning Commission and Penn State Extension sponsored the seminar.

The trends already are there, said Angela Butler of the Maryland Department of Planning. Net migration from Maryland into Pennsylvania was almost 9,000 in 2007, she said.

The number of people moving from Washington County to Franklin County exceeded 1,400 in 2006, while movement in the opposite direction was about 500 people, Butler said.

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How residents of the two counties commute across state lines shows that Franklin County is a job exporter. About 6,000 more people commute from Franklin to Washington County each day than drive into Franklin County to work, Butler said.

Growth will quicken as the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) decisions are fulfilled, said Lisa A. Swoboda, deputy director of Maryland's Office of Military and Federal Affairs. As a result of BRAC 2005, Maryland could add up to 60,000 defense and supporting jobs, she said.

Fort Meade will add 5,600 jobs, mostly from Northern Virginia, while Fort Detrick will see about 1,100 new jobs, Swoboda said. While those jobs will move, not all of the people who held them in other states will transfer with them, she said.

Many of the Department of Defense jobs will be civilian research and development positions with salaries above $80,000 per year, Swoboda said. Secondary jobs will be with defense contractors and support services, and more will be created off base in education, health care and retail, she said.

When Fort Ritchie was open, about 40 percent of the 2,000-plus people working there lived in Waynesboro, Pa., and Washington Township, Ross said. That could happen again as Corporate Office Properties Trust (COPT) redevelops the 591-acre fort into a mix of office, commercial and residential uses.

COPT plans to attract 1,400 jobs to the fort within nine years, many of them defense-related, said Bill Hofmann, the company's Property and Environmental Services manager. More than 600,000 square feet of buildings have been demolished, while 408,000 square feet are being developed for reuse.

By the time the fort is fully developed in about 20 years, it could have 1.7 million square feet of office and commercial space, 673 homes and 4,500 people working there, Hofmann said,

If those workers and their families live in Franklin County, it could mean financial headaches for local governments, County Commissioner Bob Ziobrowski said. Undeveloped, commercial and industrial properties bring in far more tax dollars than they require in services, while residential development consumes more money for schools, roads and utilities than it produces in tax revenue, he said.

Chambersburg Mayor Peter Lagiovane added another note of caution.

"What the Department of Defense giveth, the Department of Defense taketh away," he said. Lagiovane recalled that Letterkenny Army Depot lost hundreds of jobs after the 1995 BRAC round, and said the jobs Maryland anticipates also could be affected by future defense cuts.

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