Report reveals BRAC impact

Richardson compares initial imprint to Toyota plant in Georgetown

By JOSHUA COFFMAN

Monday, January 7, 2008 8:35 PM CST

FORT KNOX — New numbers illustrate in detail expected growth from base realignment. And the impact appears substantial.

The figures, provided by the Lincoln Trail Area Development District and One Knox, predict a 20 percent increase in jobs and 40 percent increase in state and local tax revenues when all is said and done in 2012.

In the short term, more jobs will be created and taxes collected, as workers complete construction projects throughout the five-year BRAC transition period and soldiers are ushered in and out.

Local leaders say the economic impact study released late last week gives specific evidence to why the state should pony up for regional infrastructure projects.

One Knox Director Brad Richardson compared it to the initial impact of the Toyota plant in Georgetown.

He said changes will bring more civilian government employees and long-term Army personnel, meaning thousands more people living, eating and shopping in the region.

“This report is proof positive that, should the state choose to invest … it will see a return on investment and then some,” said Radcliff Mayor Sheila Enyart in the release.

The study predicts one job will be created off post for every two new jobs on post, totaling about 2,100 private-sector employees to complement the addition of about 4,000 troops and government workers.

The retail, health care, social services, hospitality and construction industries will benefit most, according to the study, conducted by Thomas P. Miller and Associates, of Greenfield, Ind. It focuses on a nine-county area surrounding Fort Knox.

“The region is going to see economic growth at an unprecedented level,” Richardson said, comparing the project to in scale to UPS in Louisville. “It’s not as large as UPS but, on a comparative basis … it’s very significant.”

At least $302 million in new payroll should be created from new jobs and construction projects, peaking in fiscal year 2010, as buildings, such as the Human Resources Center, are finished and new units arrive.

Employment will crest in 2010 with 31,477 jobs at the height of the BRAC transition period, according to the study. It will level off at an estimated 29,815 jobs in 2012, up from 24,290 jobs reported last year.

Construction jobs will top out in fiscal year 2009, the study says, with 1,788 construction workers on post, before tapering off as the transition wraps up.

Over the next five years, the study estimates related state tax revenue to exceed $385 million, with about one fourth, $96 million, coming directly from the realignment process.

Currently at $48 million, it forecasts related state-tax receipts to peak at $87 million in fiscal year 2010, leveling out at nearly $70 million yearly, a sustained increase of about 40 percent.

The report predicts local tax figures to rise in similar fashion.

Those who signed off on the study insist it includes conservative estimates. It does not consider any of the estimated $300 million annually to be allotted to the Human Resource Center for operations and maintenance. According to the study, as much as 30 percent could be spent locally.

The report also does not figure in an additional 550 troops with the 9th Engineer Battalion that the Army recently announced would move to Fort Knox from Germany.

Richardson, however, cautioned of expected growing pains.

“With that goodness is going to come some strain and stress,” he said, noting the need for improvement in roads, schools, social services and other infrastructure.

However, he believes the numbers show the expansion will more than pay for itself in added tax revenue and economic development.

“This is a good, clear return investment,” he said. “Not only is this good news, but we need some help dealing with it.”

Joshua Coffman can be reached at 505-1740, or at jcoffman@thenewsenterprise.com.

This story, written by Joshua Coffman, was provided to One Knox courtesy of The News Enterprise. Read more stories from The News Enterprise at www.thenewsenterprise.com.