Location is everything HOWARD COUNTY

December 29, 1992

1992 had already shaped up as a boffo year for economi development in Howard County. Last May, Ford Motor Credit opened a regional customer service office in Columbia. October brought the sensational news that Coca-Cola Enterprises had chosen a site near Dorsey for a state-of-the-art, $125 million production and distribution plant and regional headquarters. In November, the federal General Services Administration leased 170,000-square feet for the Coast Guard at a Columbia business park owned by the Rouse Co.

Then, a few days before Christmas, another big financial package arrived on the county's doorstep.

It was announced that Sears Logistics Services Inc. will create a regional distribution center for appliances and garden equipment the same Rouse business park. In perhaps the biggest commercial leasing deal in Maryland's history, Sears will have a five-year term, with options to renew, for 945,000-square feet of space in a warehouse formerly occupied by General Electric.

Granted, Sears is hurting at the moment. Once America's No. 1 retailer, it now lags behind Wal-Mart and K mart. The company has announced that it will soon close some stores, eliminate jobs and sell off subsidiaries to make itself leaner and more profitable. "It's still a world-renowned company, and to have that kind of corporate presence here is a great benefit to both the county and the state," says William H. Howard Jr., the county's new economic development chief.

Howard County's location -- between Baltimore and Washington, smack in the middle of the Eastern seaboard, near highways, railroad lines, airports and seaports -- was key to attracting these businesses.

Knowing what a good thing they have, economic development officials have wisely targeted distribution industries that would love to locate in such a central spot.

The county is also fortunate to serve as home base for the Rouse Co., a world-class development outfit, which is in the process of turning properties near the Sears site into a BJ's Warehouse Club and a Hechinger Home Project Center.

The Rouse folks have long known the area is a fine place to do business. The corporations new to the county are just finding that out. What is it real estate people always say? Location is everything.

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