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O'Brien: BRAC communities regained 90 percent of lost jobs

  • Published
  • By Gerry J. Gilmore
  • American Forces Press Service
Redevelopment efforts have created more than 115,000 new jobs nationwide in communities affected by the last four Base Realignment and Closure actions, a senior Defense Department official said here.

Those employment gains account for "nearly 90 percent of the civilian jobs that were lost" as the result of BRAC rounds conducted in 1988, 1991, 1993 and 1995, said Patrick O'Brien, director of DOD's office of economic adjustment.

It takes hard work for communities to rebound from BRAC actions, Mr. O'Brien told attendees at the National Association of Installation Developers and Association of Defense Communities annual conference. The office of economic adjustment and other federal agencies, such as the Department of Labor, stand ready to assist redevelopment efforts of BRAC-affected communities, Mr. O’Brien said.

Mr. O'Brien urged state and local community representatives with military bases identified for closure or realignment under the recently released list to "get to know the DOD team" of military and civilian officials who work BRAC issues.

But DOD officials cannot do everything by themselves, Mr. O'Brien said. Myriad other federal agencies and programs offer community planning and redevelopment assistance for BRAC-effected communities, he said.

"Take advantage of those programs; learn what they are," he said.

The key to redevelopment success for communities affected by BRAC actions is early planning and consensus on what types of development will be undertaken on former military property, Mr. O’Brien said. However, he also asked communities to pace themselves, because the BRAC process is long and arduous.

It is not necessary that communities "reinvent the wheel" when considering redevelopment options, Mr. O'Brien said. Many BRAC success stories are available to analyze, he said.

Mr. O'Brien recommended that state and local community leaders obtain a copy of the OEA-produced booklet titled, "Responding to Change: Communities and BRAC." This booklet contains scores of examples of BRAC success stories, including points of contact, he said.

The BRAC 2005 list of proposed base closings and realignments released by Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld on May 13 requires review by the BRAC commission, the president Congress and Congress, with a final approved listing expected sometime this fall.

Yet, whatever form the final list takes, DOD stands by to assist affected communities, Mr. O’Brien said.

Through nearly two decades of BRAC actions, the office of economic adjustment has an effective history "of being capable and responsible in assisting communities respond to these challenges," Mr. O'Brien said. And as BRAC 2005 nears, DOD will carry on that legacy of assistance to affected communities, he said.

"We want to understand what your needs are; we want to be responsive to those needs," he said.