County officials woo companies in Chicago Low taxes, wages part of their pitch

August 15, 1993|By Kerry O'Rourke | Kerry O'Rourke,Staff Writer

Between eating crab balls as big as baseballs and admiring the Chicago skyline last week, Carroll officials may have convinced a Midwest food distributor to move east.

The company, which remains anonymous for now, would fill a 100,000-square-foot facility and employ 100 people, Commissioner Elmer C. Lippy said Friday.

In five years, the business would double the size of its building and hire 50 more employees, he said, and by its 10th year, it would employ 200 people. The company needs access to the railroad, Mr. Lippy said.

He, Commissioner Julia W. Gouge and William E. Jenne, the county's Office of Economic Development administrator, spoke with a represent

ative of the company Tuesday aboard the Pride of Baltimore II after Maryland's goodwill ship docked in Chicago.

The county officials attended a three-hour, early evening reception sponsored by the Maryland Department of Economic and Employment Development on board the 160-foot schooner. Their goal was to sell Carroll as a place to locate business.

Mr. Jenne, who would not confirm any details about the interested company, said its officials likely will make a decision about where to locate their East Coast operation by the end of the month.

The company is looking at other sites in Maryland and in nearby states, he said.

Mr. Lippy said he and the other Carroll countians also talked to another "hot prospect" that is "industrial in nature." He declined to give any more details.

3' "It would really be a great boon if

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we could land it. We have a lot of reasons to think we could land it," he said.

Mr. Jenne said he and Mrs. Gouge talked with a handful of other companies in the Chicago area that are affiliated with or are suppliers to Carroll businesses. He spoke by phone to a Black & Decker Inc. representative, and Mrs. Gouge visited a Jos. A. Bank Clothiers retail store, he said.

Both companies have facilities in Hampstead.

Mr. Jenne said he also talked to two nationally known companies that scout new locations for businesses.

"Part of what we do is forge relationships with companies that can bring us business," he said. "I think we'll see some results down the road."

Mr. Jenne said he was glad the two commissioners made the trip.

"The state DEED office saw real clearly how serious two of our county commissioners are about business development," he said. "I feel really elated about what we accomplished there."

Mr. Lippy said he told business representatives about some advantages of locating in Carroll. The county has a low tax rate and a reliable and plentiful work force, he said. Many companies in Carroll are not unionized and pay salaries lower than the state average, he said.

DEED numbers from the third quarter of 1992 show that the average weekly wage per worker in Carroll was $377; in Maryland, it was $485.

Business executives who came aboard the Pride could not help but be impressed by the Maryland crab meat served at the

reception, Mr. Lippy added.

"They had huge crab balls -- about the size of baseballs -- for everybody," Mr. Lippy said.

Mrs. Gouge, through her secretary, said the trip was successful and worthwhile.

The Pride will be docked in New York City late next month, and Mr.

Jenne said he plans to attend a similar reception to talk with more business prospects.

Commissioner Donald I. Dell said he did not go to Chicago because he has too many other trips on his schedule in the coming weeks.

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