The Impact of Hanford Lay-offs !!!!!!!!
In a letter to the Tri-City Realtors.
Very well done… Good information… Thank you !!
To: Tri-City Association of REALTORS
Subject: Impact of Hanford Lay-offs
Dear Fellow REALTORS®;
We all you have heard the news regarding the Hanford layoffs and people are starting to speculate that this is somehow going to negatively impact the Tri-Cities Housing Market and Economy. Please do not buy into this mind set. The Tri-Cities is already in the midst of a housing and rental shortage in the most active price points. Sensational headlines and media sound bytes which do not offer deep analysis of the current market conditions is the last thing we need in our community and it is up to REALTORS® to explain the reality of the Real Estate Market and the strength of the local economy. Although, no one has a crystal ball, a deeper analysis suggests that more jobs and a growing economy are in the Tri-Cities future. This in turn means the need for more residences and businesses in the community.
Businesses, investors, lenders, developers, and builders who truly comprehend the facts surrounding our economy and housing market will take advantage of the opportunities that are here now and will continue to come to the Tri-Cities during the next decade. Those that don’t will sit on the sidelines and look back with regret because they used these layoffs as a reason not to invest in this growing community which currently has low housing and rental availability.
Hanford is a federally funded governmental program whose work force is always evolving and always changing. As Hanford’s missions change they require different employees with different skill sets. During the last 20 years, Hanford has a long history laying off and hiring new workers with little or no negative impact on the housing market or economy. It reminds me of 1993 when the headlines read “6000 Hanford Employees to be laid off”. The article and many others predicted that the housing market would crash and the economy would decline.
But, many of those workers or new workers were hired while others went on to other industries or like myself started their own businesses. Those 6,000 lay-offs were just part of another major reorganization in a change of mission. In 1995, the Tri-Cities experienced a record number of home sales and the economy, population and the housing market have grown ever since.
Another example was in 2007, when the state tallied job totals at the end of 2006, the Tri-Cities economy, employment numbers and housing market had grown. This after having lost 700 Hanford jobs during 2006 – and on top of the 2,200 lost in 2005. Today is no different, as approximately 4,000 new non-Hanford jobs were added in 2010 with nearly 4,000 new jobs predicated in 2011 to according to work source statistics.
One example of many industries contributing to the strength of our economy is the local health care industry. This industry added roughly 4,000 jobs since the year 2000. The strength of the health care industry has been so pronounced that it appears to have appreciatively raised the average, non-Hanford wage in Benton County. This industry is expected to continue to grow as the Tri-Cities continues to become a regional health care provider.
During peak weapons production in the 1950’s, Hanford employed 50,000 people. Hanford currently employs approximately 11,500 people in the clean-up workforce. The fact of the matter is that since the headlines of 1993 announcing 6,000 lay-offs, over 50,000 jobs have been added to the Tri-Cities Economy while Hanford’s overall workforce has declined by over 5,000 people. The leadership of the community and real estate industry believe that history is merely repeating itself when it comes to Hanford lay-offs and recent history suggests these lay-offs will have no impact to the overall economy or housing market.
Instead of focusing on negative headlines, we should look into the future of the Department of Energy mission at Hanford. When you do, you’ll see a new mission on the horizon for the Tri-Cities which is built on developing renewable energy sources for our countries pending energy crisis.
Right now, DOE officials in Washington, D.C., are developing policies for possible energy parks at Hanford and other DOE sites. The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act signed by President Obama last week requires DOE to submit a report within four months on creating energy parks.
The report will include how the energy parks will be implemented and recommend any additional legislation that is needed. Objectives for the energy parks include carrying out projects related to the development and deployment of energy technologies and related advanced manufacturing technologies, including pilot projects, the bill said. Hanford is expected to be a major player in this initiative.
The energy parks also are intended to set a national example for the development of energy technologies in a way that promotes employment and U.S. energy independence, the bill said. The energy parks should create a business environment that encourages collaboration and interaction between the public and private sectors, the bill said.
Instead of focusing on the layoffs, we should understand that Federal interests are working with the Washington governor’s office to recruit an international energy company interested in using Hanford land, according to a letter to the Department of Energy.
The unnamed company is considering locating a renewable energy manufacturing plant offering what should be family-wage jobs just north of Richland.
The company is interested in 1,000 acres of property for a project that would create more than 2,000 jobs, according to the letter from the Port of Benton, the city of Richland and the Tri-City Development Council. Technical operators, chemical engineers and managers could be needed for the plant.
The company would invest at least $2 billion to develop the plant and wants to own, not lease, property for it, the letter states.
TRIDEC and other agencies have been working with local energy companies and public utility districts since 2009 when DOE began talking about the possibility of establishing energy parks at Hanford and other DOE sites where some land soon might have enough environmental cleanup completed for portions to be considered for other use.
Energy Northwest has proposed a lease of 300 acres near the Columbia Generating Station to be used for energy research or production by Energy Northwest or other companies or agencies. The transfer supports the diversification of the Tri-Cities economy away from reliance on Hanford as a primary employer.
The company being recruited could have a plant operating by next year, which are political leaders are touting as way help stabilize the Tri-City economy as the last of $1.96 billion in federal economic stimulus money for Hanford is spent late this year.
“We’d love nothing more than to see our community land a big new company that brings with it a construction investment and long-term family wage jobs,” said Colleen French, DOE Hanford government affairs program manager.
It is my belief as it should be yours that the Tri-Cities will continue to grow, will continue to thrive, and in time will be the leader of solving the growing need of our country for renewable energy.
If I won the lottery and had millions of dollars to invest anywhere in the United States it would be in a growing economy, with growing population, quality of life, and the most affordable living in the Western United States for metro area communities. That area would be Tri-Cities Washington, one of the few communities in the country that THRIVED during what has been called the worse recession of all time. Just think what it will do when the rest of the country recovers?
The future is bright in Tri-Cities. Believe it!
Tri-City Association of REALTORS®