General Dynamics Corp., one of the nation's largest defense contractors, announced yesterday that it will relocate its corporate headquarters from St. Louis and that it may select Maryland as its new home.
"We will be locating in the Washington area," said General Dynamics Spokesman, Peter K. Connolly. "It may be Maryland, or it may be Virginia."
He said that the company, which posted sales of $10.2 billion last year from such programs as the F-16 fighter plane, Tomahawk cruise missile, submarines and the M-1A1 tank, will make its decision within the next two weeks.
Mr. Connolly declined to say what sites the company was considering in Maryland to answer questions about the efforts of Maryland economic development officials to have the new corporate headquarters located within the state's borders.
William A. Anders, General Dynamics' chairman and chief executive officer, said yesterday, "With the end of the Cold War and increasing pressure on the federal budget, the defense industry of the future will be characterized by reduced government spending and increased competition.
"Washington, D.C., will be the center of much debate and review of national security policy, military force structure, equipment programs and defense acquisition and export policies," he said. "Consequently, we believe that the company can operate more effectively, more efficiently and be more responsive by having our headquarters and our leadership closer to our principal customers and policy-makers."
Michael Lofton, deputy secretary of the state Department of Economic and Employment Development, said that if General Dynamics selects a Maryland site, it would be the largest company headquartered in the state.
Mr. Lofton said that his department, in cooperation with the governor's office, "is doing everything possible to see that they locate on the Maryland side of the [Potomac] River."
Dennis G. Murphy, the president of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp., said that the county executives of Montgomery, Prince George's, Anne Arundel and Howard counties joined with Gov. William Donald Schaefer in writing a letter to Mr. Anders saying that Maryland was "ready, willing and able to accommodate your needs."
Landing the company would be a major victory, Mr. Murphy said. "It would make a strong statement about Maryland's business climate."