Md. victory leads to warehouse and jobs Spice: McCormick & Co. Inc.'s $21 million distribution center formally opened in Belcamp, Harford County.

June 28, 1996|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

Sixteen months after Gov. Parris N. Glendening threw down a $20 million gauntlet in a battle to keep McCormick & Co. Inc. from moving 100 jobs to Pennsylvania, a giant distribution plant in Harford County is up and running.

The state's incentive package -- consisting of a $1 million grant, a $4 million interest-free loan and a $15 million taxable bond issue -- has so far resulted in little more than moving McCormick jobs about 30 miles from Hunt Valley.

Fewer than 10 of the $21 million plant's roughly 110 jobs are new.

After a ceremony celebrating the plant's opening, state economic development officials yesterday said they expect the plant to expand and eventually add 75 new jobs.

James T. Brady, secretary of the Department of Business and Economic Development, also said the state's investment in McCormick goes beyond dollars and jobs. "The story from the beginning was that it was critical for Maryland to keep one of its most prestigious companies," he said. "And McCormick is that."

The state's battle to keep McCormick's jobs was fierce. In the fall of 1994, just as Glendening won a narrow victory over a Republican opponent who said the state was anti-business, at least two Pennsylvania towns were attempting to lure McCormick with their own incentive packages.

McCormick, the world's largest spice company with $1.8 billion in annual sales, was considering four sites.

In February 1995, one month into his term, Glendening announced that the state had won the McCormick fight. He sought to use the project as proof that he would fulfill promises to make Maryland pro-business and to become personally involved in interstate warfare for businesses.

In addition to the state package, McCormick benefited from a Harford County tax credit equal to 80 percent of the company's real estate taxes for the next three years. The county also provided "fast-track" approval of McCormick's permits.

At a ceremony that included employees dressed as McCormick's marquee products, such as Old Bay seasoning, Harford County Executive Eileen Rehrmann praised Baltimore County officials for working with Harford -- not against it. "It really was a regional project," she said.

Robert J. Lawless, McCormick's president and chief operating officer, said communities benefit when business and government work together. "Jobs are created, revenues are generated for cities, counties and states," he said. "What we experienced should be the norm rather than the exception."

The 370,000-square-foot plant is built on 43 acres and can be expanded to 800,000 square feet. The plant now houses McCormick's spice, food service and flavor divisions, serving as a distribution point for the eastern half of the United States.

The company's ingredients division is expected to join the plant by the end of the year, pushing employment to about 140 or 150. Robert Schroeder, vice president and general manager of the McCormick/Schilling division, said the additional jobs will replace work currently done by contractors for McCormick in Hunt Valley. After that, expansion is "tough to predict," he said.

The plant has 30-foot ceilings and enough room to house eight football fields. Put another way, the plant is roughly the size of the 35-story NationsBank building at 10 Light St. The plant actually started operating in March.

"The biggest advantage is we have everything in one building," said Kyle Tipton, a warehouse supervisor. "In Hunt Valley, we were in four buildings."

Pub Date: 6/28/96

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