Foreigners invest $4.8 billion in state during '89

October 10, 1991|By David Conn

Direct foreign investment in Maryland amounted to $4.8 billion in 1989, according to the federal government, $1.1 billion more than the year before.

The increase, higher than expected, led state officials to estimate that foreign investment in Maryland has since risen to as much as $5.5 billion.

The U.S. Department of Commerce report shows that foreign-owned or affiliated companies in Maryland employed 68,600 people in 1989, the most recent year for which figures are available.

Compared to 1988, the number of workers in foreign-owned companies was up 14.1 percent, and the state Department of Economic and Employment Development reported that those companies generated $170 million in state tax revenue, from payrolls and business activity.

DEED has come under criticism because of a recent state audit of its Maryland International Division. The audit shows the division's top officials often spent lavishly and overstated the amount of investments and jobs they helped bring to Maryland.

The Commerce report shows that foreign companies have made significant investments in the state, more than half in manufacturing and a quarter through real estate firms.

Britain was the most active, investing more than $1 billion during 1989, the report shows. The Netherlands came in second, with $484 million. France and Japan ranked third and fourth, with a total investment of $945 million between them.

The Maryland International Division also provided data that showed 881 new jobs were created in the last two years because of MID's work.

But a survey of most of the companies listed shows many of the job claims are exaggerated. Only four of 16 companies contacted by The Sun reported employment levels or gains as high as the state claimed.

Several companies said they planned to expand, and a few said they have more employees than the state indicated. But many had less than half the number that MID said.

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