The Real Thing: A Real Coup

October 12, 1992

No doubt you've seen those Coca-Cola commercials featuring happy, soda-sipping folks with ear-to-ear grins.

Well, the scene probably won't be much different today when officials of the state, Howard County and Coca-Coca Enterprises announce the company's plans to build a massive, state-of-the-art manufacturing and bottling plant in Dorsey.

Mark Wasserman, secretary of the state's Department of Economic and Employment Development, beams, "This is really a ray of sunshine, after a long, rainy day" of bad economic news.

Howard County leaders are wearing glad expressions because the $100 million, 650,000-square-foot plant will generate an estimated $4 million a year in local property taxes.

And when operations begin in about two years, the company will become the fifth largest private employer in the county.

Details of other economic spin-offs aren't yet available, but government officials seem certain the new plant will produce numerous benefits -- and reasons to smile -- throughout the region and the state.

For example, the facility will create 700 jobs, almost all to be filled by local residents, and will require constructing new rail lines for frequent CSX deliveries of manufacturing materials.

Maryland comes out even more of a winner because the plant will centralize the company's regional operations and necessitate the closing of smaller Coke operations here and in other states. If Coca-Cola Enterprises had settled in Virginia, which had been a possibility, then Maryland would have lost not only this major acquisition but also the Coke interests already here.

A less tangible, but no less significant benefit of the new plant will be the boost it gives Maryland's reputation as a place to do business.

As Mr. Wasserman says, "Attracting this blue-chip company is quite a feather in the state's cap."

Residents and officials of Howard County can also take pride in having the goods to pull off such a coup. Some of the persuading came in the form of economic concessions by the county government, but ultimately the company wouldn't have come to Howard County if it didn't boast such a generally high quality of life. The good fortune of sitting in the middle of one of the nation's largest metropolitan regions didn't hurt the county either.

So, Maryland, have a Coke. And a smile.

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