The announcement yesterday that McCormick and Co. Inc. would be consolidating and moving its distribution facilities to Riverside Business Park was good news for Harford County.
But county officials admit they are banking on the long-term effects of the move, including expansion plans by McCormick, to reap the most benefit for the county.
"Basically, we're opening the door to future revenues," said Paul Gilbert, Harford's director of economic development.
The consolidation initially will transfer 150 existing jobs to the county from operations in Hunt Valley or Sparks. But plans to expand the proposed 370,000-square-foot building to 600,000 square feet in the next three to five years will mean creating an additional 75 to 100 jobs, "most of which we expect to be held by county residents," Mr. Gilbert said.
"It's my projection that ultimately 55 to 60 percent of the total work force will be Harford County residents," he said. He noted that about 20 percent of the existing work force affected by the move already live in Harford County.
"So as a practical matter, we are securing those jobs for those people" Mr. Gilbert said, noting that a move by McCormick to Pennsylvania instead of Belcamp, in the southeastern part of the county, may have proved too long a commute for some residents and perhaps forced them to give up their jobs.
McCormick's construction project also will generate additional property tax revenue, he said.
To encourage the company to move to Harford, the county offered a property tax incentive similar to one offered to Sunbeam Plastics Corp., an Indiana-based bottle cap-maker that announced plans last month to build a manufacturing plant in the same industrial park.
County spokesman George Harrison said the administration will introduce legislation to the County Council within the next month to provide a property tax credit of 80 percent a year for three years on any improvements to the 40-acre site where McCormick will build its distribution plant.
Mr. Gilbert noted that the credit would be applied to the difference between the value of the land as it now exists and its value after construction and improvements have been completed. After three years, McCormick will be responsible for the total tax bill on the improved property.
"So the county isn't giving up a nickel of revenue that the land generates today," Mr. Gilbert said. "And in the long run it is looking at considerable revenues through real property tax, personal property tax and the piggyback income tax."
There are additional trickle-down benefits to bringing in new jobs, officials noted, even if initially they are not filled by Harford residents. Local merchants and service businesses stand to see a rise in patronage because of the new workers.