CES to keep credit card operation in Hagerstown Considered move to West Virginia

June 23, 1993|By David Conn | David Conn,Staff Writer

A New York-based credit card company with operations in Hagerstown has decided to forgo a move to West Virginia and relocate its 500-employee work force in a new building in Hagerstown, according to officials involved in the negotiations.

Card Establishment Services (CES), based in Melville, N.Y., has been searching for a new location for a year, ever since the company was sold to an investment group by its former parent, Citicorp.

In Hagerstown and at its other operations centers, CES this year expects to process $34 billion in credit card transactions for some 40,000 merchants nationwide, according to the Daily Record newspaper, which first reported the story yesterday.

The agreement last year with Citicorp allows CES to remain in one of the banking company's two Hagerstown buildings until September 1994, Citicorp spokeswoman Susan Weeks said yesterday. Citicorp still has about 1,460 employees in Hagerstown doing customer service, credit card processing and data processing for various Citicorp businesses, Ms. Weeks said.

CES has chosen Hagerstown over a competing site in West Virginia, several people involved in the deal said yesterday. It has decided, they said, to locate in a 120,000-square-foot building to be constructed on a portion of the 60-acre Gateway Business Park, near the intersection of U.S. 40 and Interstate 81.

"The state of Maryland and the state of West Virginia both presented some very aggressive and very positive benefits," said one person involved in the site location process, who asked not to be named. "I think both of them presented very excellent packages," he said, noting that the desire to accommodate the CES employees who live near Hagerstown was one factor in Maryland's favor.

The new building, valued at between $13 million and $15 million, most likely will be constructed by Gilbane Properties Inc. of Providence, R.I., according to one source, who noted that the final choice of a builder hasn't been made. It also hasn't been determined whether CES would buy the land from its owner, MNC Financial Inc., and lease the building from Gilbane, or whether Gilbane would buy the land.

Gateway was planned to be a truck stop, restaurant and hotel complex. But it never received approval from Washington County officials. The property is being managed by South Charles Realty, the MNC subsidiary that handles the foreclosed real estate and other nonperforming assets of MNC's banking units, Maryland National Bank and American Security Bank.

CES President Thomas Staudt told the Daily Record that the company's growth projections call for eventually hiring between 100 and 200 more people in Hagerstown.

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