Beyond and BRAC

The Department of Defense’s Base Closure and Realignment plan could mean a major boon to the local economy. Prepare to scan your security key.

David Weir of the University of Delaware, contractor Kerwin Gaines and Karl Kalbacher of New Castle County (from left) are among the parties working to ensure that Delaware benefits from military restructuring. Photograph by Tom NutterAs Delaware prepares for—indeed woos—an influx of U.S. Department of Defense workers and contractors, Kerwin Gaines sees great potential, as well as one very great challenge: gaining enough security clearances to manage the work.

“Delaware possesses only a handful of Department of Defense contractors that could handle the incoming Ft. Monmouth workload,” says Gaines, a DOD security expert who owns Blue Assurance Corporation, an IT security firm. “The primary issue facing Delaware small businesses is in the area of security clearance necessary to become a government contractor.”

In 2005 the U.S. Department of Defense recommended moving the communications and electronics sections of Ft. Monmouth in New Jersey to Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland, just down I-95 from Newark. The move makes central and northern Delaware one of the country’s 20 “growth communities,” as identified by DOD’s Base Closure and Realignment Commission. The shift brings the potential for thousands of high-paying skilled jobs.

- Advertisement -

Delaware, however, does not offer a defense workforce comparable to that in Maryland. That may have less to do with possessing necessary work skills—Delaware does—than it does having the necessary infrastructure security. Delaware doesn’t. And getting security clearance for DOD work is not easy. There is considerably more to it than taking a polygraph test and signing a loyalty oath.

“For a DOD security clearance, you have to demonstrate, for instance, that radio or electronic signals cannot transmit outward beyond your workspace, nor can anyone outside that workspace be able to scan into that workspace,” says Jeff Stone, infrastructure and intergovernmental relations director for the Delaware Economic Development Office.

Karen Holt, the regional BRAC manager, based in Harford County, Maryland, underscores the point.

“There’s an important personal financial aspect of the clearance process,” Holt says. “Small business employers must be able to show their employees are individually or financially stable in order to diminish any potential for espionage recruitment.” The process can take six to 24 months, according to Gaines.

Enough of the bad—or at least challenging­—news. The upside is the potential for Delaware business and employment growth at a time of downturns in manufacturing employment, such as layoffs at the General Motors plant in Newport and the Invista facility in Seaford.

- Partner Content -

“Since most of the current Ft. Monmouth civilian employees will not be relocating to the Aberdeen area, most of these positions will be filled with new hires with the appropriate skills,” according to Steve Anderson of Delaware-based Anderson Homes. Anderson is involved with DEDO’s efforts to bring new residents and workers to Delaware as a result of BRAC. “The technical skills are similar to those required by the banking and financial industries, which makes Delaware well suited to help fill these positions.”

Of the 60,000 jobs involved in the Ft. Monmouth relocation, as many as 40,000 will go off-base. Up to 35,000 represent new hires from the tri-state area.

Some DOD work does not, however, require high-security clearance. During the six months ending in March, Delaware businesses received $6 million in DOD contracts, according to Juanita Beauford, director of the Delaware Small Business Center’s Procurement Technical Assistance Center, which facilitates the process. “We are also now conducting workshops specifically to deal with BRAC-related contracts and the need for gaining security clearances,” she says.

Richard Heffron, vice-president for government affairs at the Delaware State Chamber of Commerce, says low taxes, affordable homes and an easy commute, especially from the Bear-Newark area, should be especially attractive to workers accustomed to expensive, congested northern New Jersey.

“Infrastructure improvements will be the key to attracting those who are planning to relocate here,” Heffron says. “That includes improvement along the I-95 corridor and an upgrade of the Newark rail station to support a rail link between Delaware and Maryland.”

- Advertisement -

Governor Jack Markell plans to work hard “to pitch the Delaware story. We need to make sure relocating businesses and workers know about our good schools and good housing,” he says. “We need to facilitate rail and bus transportation to make them convenient. We need to ensure the universities and colleges here are producing the kind of skilled workforce these incoming businesses will require for staffing.”

All of this requires a coordinating effort among communities within a 45-minute commuting radius of Aberdeen. The Chesapeake Science and Security Corridor was established through a federal grant to unite the eight affected regions and ensure a successful BRAC implementation. New Castle County is a member of the corridor.

“We serve as a kind of neutral clearinghouse, providing information regarding employee and business relocation to all of the areas falling under BRAC,” Holt says. “Things are getting busier, too. We’re taking anywhere from 100 to 150 calls per week from individuals and businesses concerning the opportunities existing in each of our communities. That’s in addition to the BRAC implementation presentations that we sponsor on a regular basis.”

Page 2: Beyond and BRAC continues…


To familiarize prospective transferees with the benefits of living in the area, the New Castle County Redevelopment Office sponsored a Visit Delaware Day in June of last year. About 500 participants from the Ft. Monmouth base saw booths on housing, office space and schools.

Karl Kalbacher, director of redevelopment for New Castle County, says 82 percent of the people surveyed there indicated they would move to Delaware or were still undecided.

In anticipation, New Castle County Council passed measures to streamline the zoning and land-use permit processes to fast-track approvals for new businesses. With two $100,000 grants from the Office of Economic Adjustment, the county can plan upgrades to infrastructure and plan mixed-use developments, Kalbacher says. Though driven by BRAC, the new regulation should help existing businesses, councilman Joseph Reda says.

Much greater opportunities for economic development will occur with completion of the Aberdeen relocation in 2011—opportunities that will help Delaware move its economic base from manufacturing to the knowledge economy. Though Maryland may hold the upper hand in terms of workforce and experience in defense work, many believe Delaware should be able to catch up quickly.

“I expect that, in two or three years, the University of Delaware
will become the preferred partner in economic
development for the state,” says UD’s David Weir.

New Castle County is home to the University of Delaware, Wilmington College, DelTech and Goldey-Beacom, Kalbacher notes. “We enjoy the fourth-highest per capita of scientists and engineers living here of any other county in the country.”

UD is eagerly anticipating new opportunities as a result of BRAC relocation.

“The university is the largest educational institution between Baltimore and Philadelphia and the one nearest Aberdeen,” says David Weir, head of the new Office of Economic Innovation and Partnerships at UD. “Our goal is to increase our participation in Department of Defense research grants.”

Weir envisions establishing a center for obtaining and executing military research projects. “We hope to become part of the educational process that will help develop Delaware-based sub-prime contracting to replace those that will not be relocating from Ft. Monmouth to Aberdeen,” he says. “Beyond transforming our own campus as a center for defense research and development, our other immediate goal is to assist Delaware in becoming a major DOD player.”

As a result, the university has an even larger vision. “I expect that, in two or three years, the University of Delaware will become the preferred partner in economic development for the state,” Weir says. “First, we can identify all the state-based assets and serve as a gateway for outside businesses to access those assets. We will begin marketing our campus-based assets to other outside communities and, finally, develop the capabilities that advance entrepreneurial development and expertise.”


No entity has a greater capacity to reduce the language to a box of Alpha Bits quite like our military. Delawareans should get ready for the hard rain of acronyms that’s gonna fall soon as a result of new defense personnel working in the area. Some examples:

USAMRICD U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Chemical Defense. When speaking of it verbally, you are allowed to refer to it as the ICD.

JPEO Joint Program Executive Office. It may be combined with other entities such as the PEO C3T, which is the Program Executive Office Command, Control and Communications, or the PEO EIS, Program Executive Office Enterprise Information Systems.

PEO IEW&S PEO Intelligence, Electronic Warfare, and Sensors part of the CE LCMC or the Communications-Electronics Life Cycle Management Command.

RDECOM Research Development and Engineering Command. It is located in RDEC or the Research Development and Engineering Center. It is not something you can use in your septic system

The fun really begins when RDECOM requests assistance from USAMRICD, which bounces it to PEO IEW&S, which has to forward it on to PEO C3T, because of a conflict of interest with CE LCMC.


—RAC (Reid A. Champagne)

Our Best of Delaware Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

Holiday flash sale ... subscribe and save 50%

Limited time offer. New subscribers only.