The US Department of Energy’s 300-square-mile Savannah River Site (SRS) has been a key economic driver in South Carolina since the 1950s, making the federal government and its contractors the region’s largest industry sector. Established in 1993, the Savannah River Site Community Reuse Organization (SRSCRO) is charged with facilitating economic development in the five-county area impacted by SRS (which includes the cities of Augusta, Georgia, and Aiken, South Carolina). Maximizing the significant benefits resulting from the SRS’s presence, while balancing the risks associated with dependency on a single employer, is an ongoing challenge for the organization.
To position the region to meet the increasing demand for workers, the SRSCRO engaged TIP Strategies to conduct a detailed labor study and regional workforce strategy. The work began with a comprehensive analysis of the labor force and included deep dives into four economic drivers: nuclear, manufacturing, cybersecurity/IT, and healthcare. Published in 2015, the study identified key roles needed to create a demand-driven workforce system: 1) collecting and disseminating data; 2) convening regional partners; 3) connecting partners through networks; 4) informing workers about opportunities; and 5) marketing the region to talent. This engagement was followed in 2016 by a “consequence analysis” that examined threats to the region’s employment balance due to an impending wave of retirements and direct and indirect job losses that could result from federal spending cuts. The analysis included a baseline economic impact study of the SRS, scenario modeling of possible impacts from employment changes, and benchmarking of military communities and other federally dependent regions. Based on the analysis, the team provided recommendations for transitioning an aging workforce and attracting new talent to the area. Prior to these engagements, TIP prepared an economic development strategy for the SRSCRO region, in partnership with Canup & Associates, in 2009.