Martin gains work for Middle River site

December 16, 1993|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Staff Writer

Martin Marietta Corp. is scheduled today to announce an aerospace contract that is expected to secure the future of its Middle River complex and the jobs of its 1,400 employees.

The company said yesterday that Norman R. Augustine, chairman and chief executive of Bethesda-based Martin Marietta, along with Gov. William Donald Schaefer and other federal, state and county officials, would make "a major program announcement" at the Baltimore County complex this morning, although it declined to disclose details.

But according to people familiar with the announcement, including Rep. Helen Delich Bentley of Baltimore County, it involves a large contract to produce jet-engine thrust reversers for General Electric Corp. Thrust reversers serve as brakes for jets as they land.

"This is a very important contract," Mrs. Bentley said yesterday. "When we met with the company in September, they told us this would make the difference on whether or not Middle River continues."

She said the GE contract would produce no new jobs at the Middle River complex but "would stabilize its current work force."

In early October, state officials disclosed that the plant had previously been on a company list of facilities slated to close. Martin Marietta had produced the list as part of an effort to consolidate its facilities with those of the GE aerospace division that it acquired this year.

When state officials learned of that possibility, they moved to meet with Martin Marietta's top executives and started work on an incentive package to help the company find business for Middle River. Their efforts focused in part on capturing the GE thrust-reverser contract. Martin Marietta was one of four companies to express interest in the GE business, according to several people familiar with the talks.

GE produces parts in Cincinnati for its thrust reversers, and it ships some components to the Middle River plant for assembly. The local plant, which has suffered layoffs because of a declining defense budget, hopes to capture all that business.

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