Maryland hosts extraordinary federal facilities with a military and intelligence presence. A Congressman, and representatives from the National Security Agency (NSA) and two Military Alliances discussed Maryland’s federal presence and the role they play in the community during the MACo Summer Conference session titled “Maryland’s Federal Footprint – Counties Hosting Major Federal Sites. The panel was moderated by Anne Arundel County Executive Steve Schuh.
Congressman Dutch Ruppersberger kicked off the discussion commenting on the importance of Maryland’s federal facilities and the effects of sequestration. He also spoke of the negative effects of recent efforts to reduce the formula for tax exempt bonds. He commented that it would increase borrowing and shift more costs onto counties. Counties need to make the case “don’t hurt local governments.” Congressman Ruppersberger also shared his support of Congressman Delaney’s proposal to generate revenue for transportation infrastructure and encouraged local officials to communicate with members of Congress to share their concerns.
Judi Emmel, Associate Director for State, Local and Community Relations at NSA shared statistics about the agency and examples of how it works with the community. NSA provides $3.5 billion to companies through contracts and does business with over 400 companies, 300 of which are small businesses. It also provides training in math and science for k-12 teachers and reached over 18,000 students last year. Judi also shared information on NSA’s partnership with law enforcement, going green initiative, and other community contributions.
The panel’s third speaker was Jill McClune, President of the Army Alliance, an organization that is dedicated to the well-being of programs and organizations at Aberdeen Proving Ground (APG). She began by sharing data from an economic impact study prepared by the Department of Business and Economic Development summarizing the overall economic impact of Maryland’s military facilities. The total economic impact of Maryland’s 16 military facilities is $57.2 billion and they support almost 410,000 jobs. APG accounts for $7 billion in economic output and supports over 58,000 jobs. The most recent Base Realignment and Closure process, which expanded APG, has caused a dramatic increase in Harford County’s median household income and county tax revenue. APG, which specializes in hardware for cyber security, is currently forming a new council focused on protecting Maryland from cyber threats.
Bob Wirt spoke fourth on the panel representing the Southern Maryland Navy Alliance, an advocacy organization for the Naval Air Station Patuxent River. Established in 1992, the Alliance has broad, diverse representation and works collaboratively with national, state, county, and community organizations. Most recently there have been huge fluctuations in federal funding largely created by sequestration. Contractor salary reductions are affecting the county’s tax base. Given the difficult and challenging fiscal environment, Bob commented that officials at all levels must work together to “create opportunities for growth and diversification to mitigate impacts from reductions in defense spending.”