Md. campaign lured Staples, chief says Distribution center in Hagerstown to bring 700 jobs

Incentives were key

Retailer's chairman praises marketing by state officials


April 16, 1996|By Marina Sarris | Marina Sarris,SUN STAFF

The chairman of Staples Inc. said yesterday that the office-supply superstore chain chose Hagerstown as the site of its largest distribution center because of an aggressive, well-coordinated marketing effort by Maryland officials.

Chairman Thomas G. Stemberg said Maryland beat out several other states for the $43 million project by meeting his construction timetable, promoting the state's economy and offering a potential work force with a strong work ethic.

Maryland also offered the Framingham, Mass.-based company a package of state and local economic development incentives worth at least $4.2 million.

Mr. Stemberg joined Gov. Parris N. Glendening in Annapolis yesterday to announce formally that Staples is bringing 700 jobs to Washington County, providing a much-needed boost to an area where the unemployment rate is far higher than the state average.

"We have ushered in a new day in economic development in Maryland," Mr. Glendening said.

Mr. Stemberg cited several factors in his company's decision.

"We needed a state that would commit to our timetable of a June groundbreaking," he said. The 840,000-square-foot distribution hub is expected to open by February 1997 and serve 370 stores in the mid-Atlantic, Midwestern and Southern regions of the country.

County residents also impressed his firm, he said.

"We go out of our way to study a community, and we were very impressed with the quality of the work force and the work ethic," Mr. Stemberg said.

Before selecting Hagerstown, Staples had focused on existing industrial park sites in Winchester, Va., and a 700,000-square-foot AT&T Corp. warehouse in Martinsburg, W. Va., said J. Richard Latini, a vice president for the commercial real estate firm of Colliers Pinkard who advised Staples.

The Hagerstown site "will be more difficult to develop than the other sites, but Maryland went to the level required with its incentive package to make Hagerstown cost-effective," said Robert Steinhart, an agent for the commercial real estate firm of Colliers Lanard & Axilbund who represented Staples in the transaction. "Basically, Staples felt wanted."

The $4.2 million incentive package includes a $700,000 state grant, a $2 million state loan, a $600,000 state job-training grant and $925,000 worth of road and water improvements from Washington County, said James T. Brady, secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development.

Staples also will receive enterprise zone and job-creation tax credits that have not been determined yet, Mr. Brady said. Parts of the package require the approval of top state lawmakers, some of whom have praised the project.

Employees at the new warehouse will be paid an average of about $8 an hour or more next year. They also will receive health insurance and other benefits.

Pub Date: 4/16/96

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