By Wayne Allen
Officials in Scioto County have said if the proposed 500 worker separation from Fluor-BWXT becomes reality as much as $50 million could be taken out of the regional economy. The loss would come in the form of jobs and less investment in the region.
Fluor-BWXT is the United States Department of Energy (DOE) contractor for Decontamination and Decommissioning (D&D) of the former Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Piketon. Prior to starting their work Flour-BWXT developed a community commitment plan. The plan outlines the company’s commitment to invest in a four-county region.
According to www.fbportsmouth.com, “We designed our Community Commitment Plan to contribute to the economic stabilization and growth of the four-county region of influence (Ross, Pike, Scioto, and Jackson counties) that is most impacted by site operations. Fluor-B&W Portsmouth will invest 5 percent of our fee in the four-county region. We will use these funds to establish a Community Commitment Fund. Through this fund, we will target 80 percent to economic development and 20 percent to charitable giving initiatives that provide the greatest impact to the region.”
Fluor-BWXT is currently facing an $80 million dollar budget shortfall. If Fluor-BWXT operates with less funding, it would equate to less money flowing into the region.
Southern Ohio Port Authority (SOPA) Executive Director Jason Kester said the funding provided by Fluor-BWXT has paid for many projects in Scioto County and the region.
“The funding for the cleanup directly impacts the community commitment fund, which is the economic and community funds,” Kester said.
He said if proposed cuts are implemented it will not only affect workers, but the region.
“The engineering work we’ve done as a part of the river strategy, the GIS (Geographic Information System) and some of the brownfield stuff we’ve done has been paid for by the Flour funds we get as a county,” Kester said.
Earlier this year Fluor-BWXT awarded $70,000 to Patter Fam Sauces and Tri-America Contractors of Wheelersburg, to aid in expansion efforts. With the grant received from the Fluor BWXT Portsmouth Opportunity Fund and the Joint Economic Development Initiative of Southern Ohio (JEDISO) Patter Fam Sauces was able to expand to a space that will include a bottling factory.
Gregory Stanley, General Manager, with Tri-America Contractors, said in a released statement, the company’s grant will be used to purchase equipment to expand production facilities. “The grant will help us finish our expansion plans which will ultimately lead to more production capacity and family-supporting jobs for our community.”
In 2014 similar grants were provided to Mako Finished Products, they machine and finish castings produced by OSCO Industries. And Portsmouth based YEI Technology will be receiving a $44,000 grant.
From 2010 through 2014, Fluor-BWXT Portsmouth had spent roughly $252 million in Scioto, Pike, Jackson and Ross counties. Leading the four-county areas in spending from Fluor-B&W is Pike County. Since the start of the project they have spent $147,889,673.61. In Scioto County they have spent $70,135,496.52, in Jackson County they have spend $28,087.073.03 and in Ross County they have spent $5,787,671.84.
While the potential impact to the workers and the region would be felt by many. Officials are lobbying federal legislators to restore funding, before worker layoffs occur.
Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 1933 or on Twitter @WayneallenPDT