Grace To Build In Baltimore

October 21, 1994|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Sun Staff Writer

Bucking the trend of manufacturers cutting back or closing city factories, W. R. Grace & Co. is constructing a $38.5 million chemical plant in the Curtis Bay area of Baltimore.

Dignitaries from Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke to Gov. William Donald Schaefer, at yesterday's groundbreaking, praised the company's decision to build the 150,000-square-foot plant, which is expected to provide 50 new jobs when completed by the end of next year.

The building of the plant was welcome in the city, where a number of manufacturing plants have either cutback or closed in recent years. Those have included plants operated by Smithfield Foods Inc., which owned Esskay, Procter & Gamble Co. and London Fog Corp.

James R. Hyde, president of W.R. Grace's Grace Davison

division, said a key factor in bringing the Grace plant to Baltimore was a new process that allowed the company to work with regulators to get environmental permits more quickly.

The expedited procedure, put in place by the state last year, shaved a year off the normal schedule, Mr. Hyde said.

"If any one individual can get credit for getting things moved into picking Curtis Bay as the site for that expansion, it is Governor Schaefer," Mr. Hyde said.

In addition to the faster approval, which took 15 months, the company also decided to build in Baltimore because it already had a chemical plant in Curtis Bay and that facility was near the port, Mr. Hyde said. The Grace plant is in the heavy industrial area of South Baltimore, surrounded by other chemical companies, such as FMC Corp. and Vista Chemical Co., as well as the city's Quarantine landfill and the U.S. Coast Guard shipyard.

The new plant, which will make catalysts for the oil refining industry, is being built on a 58-acre site on Chemical Road on Baltimore's southern border, which is home to a Grace Davison plant and technical center with 700 employees.

The 50 new jobs created by the plant will include 40 production workers and 10 management employees, said Brian R. Martin, manager of the Curtis Bay plant.

Twenty production jobs, which pay an average of $16.80 an hour, could go to qualified graduates of Southern High School in Baltimore, where the company has a partnership program with the school, Mr. Martin said.

W.R. Grace, based in Boca Raton, Fla., is an international chemical and medical products company with $4.4 billion in annual sales.

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