Public funds to work for 3 companies Council expected to OK package of incentives

June 12, 1996|By Scott Wilson | Scott Wilson,SUN STAFF

Moving to energize a listless economy, the County Council is expected to endorse a financial incentive package next week worth $18.9 million that would put public money to work for three private companies.

The council is scheduled to vote on two resolutions Monday night that would authorize the state to borrow $12.4 million on behalf of a Millersville manufacturing company and a Baltimore distribution firm planning to move to Anne Arundel.

The money would be raised through an industrial bond issue at no cost to the county.

Reflecting Maryland's competitive recruiting environment, one bond series amounting to $8.6 million would pay for F. A. Davis & Sons, a cigarette and specialty grocery distributor now on Baltimore's South Paca Street, to move 200 jobs outside city limits.

The company, founded in the city 120 years ago, expects to add another 100 positions over the next three years.

"Unfortunately, it means jobs leaving Baltimore," said Lisa Ritter, spokeswoman for County Executive John G. Gary, who endorses the incentive package. "But it also means new jobs coming to Anne Arundel."

In all, the two state bond issues could mean 312 new jobs by the decade's end for a county experiencing a rapid realignment of its labor force.

Since 1990, Anne Arundel has lost 10 percent of its jobs that pay more than $40,000 a year, most of them from the manufacturing field, while the low-wage sector of jobs paying less than $20,000 annually has grown by 20 percent over that period -- a change that regional economists have called a "fundamental shift in the income base."

A third council resolution scheduled for a Monday vote would allow the Anne Arundel Economic Development Corp. to issue $6.5 million in revenue bonds to refinance a loan made to a Cockeysville real estate company 12 years ago.

The Mountain Ridge Limited Partnership, which is part of Henderson-Webb Inc., will contribute $16,250 to the county's incentive loan program in return for help refinancing the 19.2-acre Mountain Ridge Apartments complex in Glen Burnie.

The loan pool is designed to aid small businesses trying to expand operations within the county.

Public financing for private enterprise has been common in recent years as the counties and the state, facing pinched revenues and bleak projections, have struggled to preserve and recruit industry.

In this case, the county's private Economic Development Corp. and the Maryland Industrial Development Financing Authority are using their sterling credit to secure money for three companies, which will be required to sign agreements with each agency to repay the loans with interest.

Anne Arundel County itself would assume no liability for the loans, but its endorsement is required for the bond issues to proceed.

"The governor has made it clear that private sector development is the keystone to our economic future," said Charles F. Porcari, spokesman for the state Department of Business and Economic Development. "That's where our energies have been devoted."

F. A. Davis & Sons will use part of the $8.6 million to buy 14 acres in the Marley Neck Industrial Park, which borders Baltimore to the southeast. The company will use the balance to build a 200,000-square-foot office and distribution center on the land.

A second state bond issue worth $3.8 million will benefit Holmatro Inc., a Millersville manufacturing concern that makes hydraulic rescue equipment.

The firm, which now rents space near Interstate 97, will use the bond proceeds to buy a 4.5-acre lot in the International Trade Center on McCormick Avenue. The park sits at the southern tip of the Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

Ritter said the company, which employs 23 people and plans to add 12 more jobs with the move, might have left the county without the loan. "This is just a matter of preservation," she said.

Pub Date: 6/12/96

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