Aberdeen firm gets first seafood loan from state Fish farm plan modeled after the poultry industry.

November 26, 1991|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,Evening Sun Staff

MPF Inc., an Aberdeen firm that plans to develop a fish growing and marketing plan similar to that of the state's poultry industry, will be the first recipient of financial assistance from the new Maryland Seafood and Aquaculture Loan Fund.

MPF, which will be known as Maryland Pride Farms Inc. once the loan transaction is complete, will receive a loan and line of credit valued at $250,000.

MPF President Douglas Burdette started an aquaculture farm in 1976. He later sold it to Towsend Inc., one of the largest poultry processors on the Delmarva Peninsula.

When that company decided to delay implementing an aquaculture operation, Burdette asked to buy back the division.

The money from the aquaculture fund will be used to acquire the farm, which includes 16 acres with ponds and indoor fish-raising facilities.

Once the transaction is complete, it will operate under the name Maryland Pride Farms.

Joining Burdette in the project is Towsend's former chief operating officer, Ken Robertson.

They are modeling the fish farm plan after Maryland's poultry industry. They intend to establish a group of contract growers to produce various species of fish using feed produced by Maryland Pride Farms. The fish will be processed and marketed under the Maryland Pride Farms trade name.

The company plans to produce and market catfish, live striped bass and tilapia fillets. The company also will market a computerized indoor fish-growing system that it has developed. The system allows fish to be raised under more intensive conditions than previously.

nTC Burdette said some 3,000 people have expressed interest in raising fish in Maryland.

The firm is now seeking Maryland investors in the project. "They have to be interested in the state," he said. "I'm kind of loyal."

Maryland Pride Farms expects to achieve revenues in excess of $4 million by the end of 1994.

The company's payroll is expected to grow from eight employees to more than 22 by the end of 1994.

"The seafood industry in Maryland is one of the major economic resources we have," said Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of the Department of Economic and Employment Development.

"The money we invest in these industries will pay dividends tomorrow for all Marylanders."

The financial package provided by the Maryland Seafood and Aquaculture Loan Fund includes a $123,000 term loan and a $127,000 line of credit to purchase equipment.

The Maryland Seafood and Aquaculture Loan Fund provides loans for up to 50 percent of all fixed asset investment needed to develop seafood and related products of aquaculture in Maryland.

The fund was established last year by the General Assembly to provide low-interest loans to the seafood processing and aquaculture industries to encourage innovation, expansion and

modernization.

All loan must be personally guaranteed and a lien on the asset being financed is required.

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