Economist says new NRF facility will benefit state, local economy

Jan 10th, 2017 | By | Category: Manufacturing/Industry

By Kendra Evensen
kevensen@journalnet.com

The U.S. Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program (NNPP) is planning to recapitalize infrastructure in eastern Idaho that handles fuel waste from the nation’s fleet of nuclear-powered warships, and a regional economist believes the project will benefit the local and statewide economy.

Hope Morrow with the Idaho Department of Labor says the $1.65 billion project, which will take place at the Naval Reactors Facility (NRF) on the Idaho National Laboratory site, could increase regional gross domestic product by more than $35 million.

“Although a majority of this impact will be seen throughout eastern Idaho, the entire state will reap the benefits of such a massive GDP and Labor Income increase,” Morrow wrote in an email response to the Journal.

Jan Rogers, CEO of Regional Economic Development for Eastern Idaho (REDI), agrees.

“This is a project that once completed will continue to have significant economic impact on the region for decades,” Rogers wrote in an email response to the Journal.

NNPP is planning to recapitalize naval spent nuclear fuel handling infrastructure currently within the aging Expended Core Facility by building a new facility, according to a news release.

“Building a new facility will improve the long-term capacity, increase efficiency and effectiveness, and reduce long-term costs and risks,” according to the news release, which adds that the project will also benefit from current design and construction standards.

While the new facility won’t be operational until late 2024, site preparation work will start next year and construction will begin in 2019.

Local officials believe eastern Idaho will see benefits early on.

“The construction phase alone will have a substantial economic impact on the region,” Rogers wrote.

Morrow says the $500 million construction phase is expected to create 360 jobs directly and another 170 through the impact of inter-industry expenditures, employment changes and labor income spent throughout the region.

“The added labor income (estimated around $20 million) will keep the money flow throughout our region strong,” Morrow wrote.

She says such projects can help strengthen the economy, keep unemployment rates low and give businesses opportunities to grow.

Rogers said the project will also reinforce the eastern Idaho’s reputation as an innovative corridor.

“I think this new facility adds to our story and will help continue to drive business growth as well as the talent to help support that growth,” she said.

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