Md. cajoles General Dynamics Va. also makes pitch for headquarters

June 27, 1991|By Ted Shelsby and John W. Frece

Maryland officials pressed their attack yesterday in the battle with Virginia to land the corporate headquarters of General Dynamics Corp., the maker of such military hardware as the the F-16 fighter plane, Tomahawk cruise missile and M-1A1 tank.

After hosting the top executives of the nation's second-largest defense contractor at a State House dinner Tuesday night, Gov. William Donald Schaefer disclosed yesterday that the state will present to General Dynamics no later than noon tomorrow a package of incentives designed to lure the St. Louis-based company to the Maryland suburbs of Washington.

On other fronts:

* The state's legislative leaders sent a letter to William A. Anders, General Dynamic's chairman and chief executive officer, expressing their willingness to assist the company in any way possible.

* The General Assembly approved the shifting of $2.5 million from one of the Department of Economic and Employment Development's loan programs to the state's so-called "Sunny Day Fund" for the governor's use in wooing General Dynamics to Maryland.

* Maryland's two U.S. senators and Representative Beverly B. Byron, D-Md.-6th, met with Mr. Anders yesterday morning to urge him to locate on the Maryland side of the Potomac River.

At a press conference in Annapolis yesterday Governor Schaefer said that until Maryland began its "full-court press," General Dynamics was leaning toward a site in Virginia.

This may no longer be the case. The governor said that General Dynamics' final decision will be based on economics. "Strictly money," he said. "I think they'd like to be in Maryland, but they're a business, and they're tough."

In answer to a question about what's contained in the state's proposal, the governor said, "everything."

There are a "whole lot of things," he declared. "Things you don't even think about because you don't know which ones are important to them."

He said the state offered an employment training program, but realized that training was not something that General Dynamics was concerned about.

Mr. Schaefer said General Dynamics would make its decision in a very short time.

Dennis C. Murphy, president of the Prince George's County Economic Development Corp., said that he expects General Dynamics to announce its site by the end of the week or early next week.

Mr. Murphy said that it is his understanding that the company's site selection people have developed a short list of prospective sites. He added that it contains three or four Maryland sites, primarily in Prince George's and Montgomery counties.

After meeting yesterday morning with Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski, D-Md., Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, D-Md., and Representative Byron, Mr. Anders moved on to Richmond for a luncheon meeting with Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and Sen. John W. Warner, R-Va.

Virginia officials were tight-lipped about the meeting. "My understanding is that it was a good meeting, a positive one," said Laura Dillard, Mr. Wilder's press secretary. "That's all I can say about it."

Philip Smith, press secretary for Senator Warner, said: "I can't say that [Mr. Anders] offered anything in the way of results. He said a few kind things about Virginia and Maryland. He said that he has lived in both states. He attended the Naval Academy, and I think he said his father was on the staff."

Mr. Smith said that Mr. Anders was "very careful" to be neutral when talking about the two states.

General Dynamics announced last week that it would relocate from St. Louis to the Washington area to be closer to the Pentagon and other federal contracting agencies. With sales of more than $10 billion last year, it would be the largest company headquartered in Maryland if it picks a site within the state.

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