Countians Seek Share Of Kuwait Rebuilding Business

War In The Gulf

March 17, 1991|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff writer

Now that the Persian Gulf war is over, G. Melvin Mills Jr. would like to visit Kuwait.

While he's there, he'd like to install some cellular phones and maybe some two-way radios and closed-circuit televisions.

He wants to work.

The owner of Mills' Communications Inc. in Westminster has submitted his name to the state as a businessman interested in helping rebuild Kuwait.

At least one other county business, Shelter Systems Corp. of Maryland, also in Westminster, would liketo work in Kuwait.

A number of county residents also have visitedor called the state Department of Economic and Employment Development office in Westminster to inquire about jobs in Kuwait, said Office Manager Theodora Stephen.

When word got out recently that businesses might be hiring workers to travel to the Middle East, the office received about 20 calls a day for two days, she said. People also cameto the office, hoping for job leads. Late last week, the calls were down to about six a day, she said.

Most of those interested were carpenters, many of whom have been out of work because of the slow housing market, Stephen said. The county's January jobless rate, the latest available, soared to 7.1 percent, higher than state and national figures.

"It's a wonderful opportunity, and they're more than willing to relocate," she said.

DEED does not have information yet about what kind of jobs would be available or what they would pay, she said.

Interested workers should send resumes to the Kuwait-MarylandPartnership, World Trade Center, Suite 222, Baltimore 21202.

The partnership is a combined effort between state government and privatebusinesses to supply goods and services to help rebuild Kuwait.

Shelter Systems is one of seven partners in the Kuwait-Maryland Partnership. The company, one of the county's top 30 employers, makes roofing trusses and modular homes. It has about 110 employees.

Mills said if chosen to go to Kuwait, he probably would take three of his 25 employees to start the work, depending how extensive the contract was.

Sales for the company last year were $1.8 million. Mills' Communications sells and services various communications equipment, including public address systems; paging, or beeper, systems; and telemetry controls.

This would be its first overseas job. The company was founded in 1948, and Mills bought it in 1978.

The 49-year-old served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam War, but was not sent to Indochina.

"I personally do not like anything involving a war," he said. "But this war brought America much closer together. The unity and patriotism shown has been phenomenal."

In December, Mills expressedinterest in traveling to the Soviet Union for a trade conference this spring that could lead to business opportunities there. He said he decided not to go because of unrest in that country.

The Kuwait-Maryland Partnership is developing a directory of businesses that couldbe involved in rebuilding Kuwait. More than 300 already are on the list.

They are divided into four categories: architecture and engineering, emergency services, transportation facilities, and humanitarian and medical assistance.

Gov. William Donald Schaefer is scheduled to return today from a trip to Kuwait, where he was part of a delegation of government and business leaders.

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