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Friday, July 15, 2011 - 10:55am

SRS Layoffs Threaten Region's Economy

Layoffs at the Savannah River Site near Augusta could hurt the local economy, according to a study released this week.

It was commissioned by the non-profit SRS Community Reuse Organization to gauge the site’s economic impact on the surrounding communities including Richmond and Columbia counties.

According to the report, more than a third of the site’s nearly 11,000 workers live in the Augusta area.

Federal budget cuts have caused site officials to slash about 2,000 of those positions by early next year.

That means Augusta will miss out on the millions of dollars the high-paying jobs pump into the local economy through spending and tax revenue.

Chris Noah, who led the study, says the economy could also suffer in more subtle ways.

"If you don’t have the people here and if they move out of the area you don’t have the school population," Noah says. "There’d be an impact on your local doctor or the cleaners or McDonald’s. It’s the ripple effect."

The workforce reductions come as efforts to clean up of waste from decades of nuclear weapons production wind down.

To replace the economic impact of a single SRS job, the study says, economic developers will have to create about 2 and a half jobs in the community.

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