SRS contractors knew stimulus work would end

Jerry Ashmore, the president of Ashmore Concrete Contractors, Inc., saw the federal economic stimulus work at Savannah River Site as any other job.


Ashmore Concrete Contractors Inc. in Evans was awarded more than $700,000 in contracts for work at SRS.

"The work that was done with stimulus money eventually would have needed to be accomplished," he said. "It was just economic stimulus for whoever won, but it wasn't sustainable."

Ashmore did not hire any additional workers because of the SRS contract, and he said that from his perspective, the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act fell short of reviving the economy.

"We were very glad we won that contract, of course," Ashmore said. "But as far as creating jobs, I don't think it did that."

Time is running out on the federal economic stimulus projects at SRS.

In summer 2009, to combat the recession, $1.6 billion was awarded to SRS for the creation of jobs and to stimulate the local economy. Those jobs were only temporary, however, and by September the last of those workers will be moving on to the next thing. The money was a part of the American Recovery and Reinvest-ment Act. Designed to serve as an electric shock to the dismal economy, the recovery act gave money to "shovel-ready" projects across the country.

It funded more than 3,000 positions at SRS, and site officials had hoped that the economy would turn around by the time the funding was up and that they would be able to offer more permanent positions in the fall of 2011.

"This is a 2 1/2-year effort," Chuck Munns said in 2009. "It gives us time to work on the 'what's next.' " Munns was then president of Savannah River Nuclear Solutions, a company that received nearly $1 billion in contracts from the recovery act.

By now, most of the contractors hired with the Recovery Act funds have already had to figure out what's next -- and with hundreds of layoffs at SRS since 2009, the "next" wasn't staying on at the site.

Bob Rhoden, the human resources manager for SRNS, said the majority of their contractors began work immediately after the funding was given two years ago and have already left SRS for new opportunities.

Rhoden manages the SRS Transition Center in downtown Aiken, a facility that helps ex-SRS employees find employment after having been released.

The center is available for individuals employed directly by SRS and also site workers who are employed by contractors such as SRNS.

"The genesis of this site was actually for the ARRA workers," Rhoden said. "It really wound up being used for site layoffs, though."

Although the transition center's resources and staff were available to recovery act workers, only one or two of those employees used the center to find work after their stimulus jobs, he said.

"They knew they were temporary, and they knew they would be released," Rhoden said. "In the world of subcontracting, there's a lot of work available."


Thu, 07/27/2017 - 23:42

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