PASCO, Wash. – The economy of the Tri-Cities region in south central Washington isn't as closely linked with the Hanford Nuclear Reservation as it was in the 1970s. That's the bottom line of a new study by the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. In fact, less than 8 percent of local jobs in the area were with Hanford prime contractors last year. Correspondent Anna King explains.
Michael Scott: “Seattle caught cold, caught
pneumonia when Boeing went down in the late 60s early 70s, they
attempted to diversify and did, they were lucky to snag Microsoft. They
reinvented themselves. On a much smaller scale the same sort of thing
is going on here.”
Billions of federal dollars pour into the effort to clean up nuclear waste at Hanford each year. Even more with last year's federal stimulus package. Pacific Northwest National Laboratory economist Michael Scott says Hanford is important, but the region isn't all about the site anymore. Scott's study shows total employment in Benton and Franklin counties has increased by a third since 1994. He says many of the new jobs are in health care, food processing and scientific work.
[Scott says the Tri-Cities still has work to do to diversify over the next 40 years, when thousands of Hanford jobs could disappear.] Scott's economic study was prompted by several businesses deciding not to locate in the Tri-Cities. They thought the area's economy was too closely coupled to Hanford.
I'm Anna King in Pasco.
Copyright 2010 Northwest News Network
See the complete study from Pacific Northwest National Laboratory