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June 20, 2012 at 9:37 AM

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Navy munitions wharf at Bangor: Where are the jobs?

WASHINGTON -- Even critics who oppose the proposed munitions wharf at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor as an environmental hazard that isn't needed believed building it would be a big boon to Kitsap County's economy.

After all, the Navy estimates the $715 million project will create 4,370 direct jobs and 1,970 indirect jobs.

Last month, the Navy awarded the main construction contract for $331 million. And the winning three-company joint venture is ready to hire -- all 100 workers.

Turns out the Navy wasn't saying that all 4,370 direct jobs would be created locally. It was counting other jobs the project is expected to generate, such as iron workers building I-beams or shipping crews that will ferry materials to the site, said Leslie Yuenger, a Navy spokeswoman.

The 1,970 indirect jobs, on the other hand, would include waiters at restaurants who serve construction workers.

Jay Weisberger, a spokesman for Skanska USA, one of the joint-venture companies, said an unknown number of additional workers would be hired by subcontractors. That's in addition to "hundreds" of other workers from federal agencies, suppliers, consulting firms and manufacturers that would have a piece of the project, Weisberger said.

Economic forecasting models are notoriously inexact. Peter Cappelli, a professor of management at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said the Navy appears to be overcounting the wharf's economic benefits. Some of the jobs will be filled by people who are already working elsewhere. And what the Navy defines as direct jobs, Cappelli said, typically would be considered indirect jobs.

The Navy's estimate about the project's total cost has been squishy as well.

When the Navy first proposed building the second explosives-handling wharf in 2008, it gave it a price tag of $782 million. By 2011, the Navy was budgeting $715 million, a figure widely quoted publicly.

Now, the Navy says, "the project cost is estimated to be in excess of $500 million."

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Its fair to attack the explosives handling Ward for environmental or security reasons... MORE
If you equate "direct jobs/indirect jobs" to "jobs saved/created,"... MORE
The government should not be in the business of providing jobs... --standard Tea... MORE

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