Baltimore Co. leader upbeat on business 'We're moving,' says Ruppersberger, citing 3,500 jobs added, saved

Report spotlights success

Despite optimism, one major plant is closing, shipyard may be shut

November 21, 1996|By Ronnie Greene | Ronnie Greene,SUN STAFF

Even as Baltimore County faces a double dose of job losses, County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger unveiled his first economic report card yesterday, with boisterous talk of a business rebirth.

With the "Rocky" theme blaring in the background, Ruppersberger pitched his progress in luring companies to a receptive crowd of 400 business leaders at the Timonium Holiday Inn.

Economic development officials added or protected more than 3,500 jobs in the county during the fiscal year that ended June 30, he said.

"I like that 'Rocky' theme -- because we're moving," said Ruppersberger, who puts economic development among his priorities.

His statements and statistics come when the county is losing hundreds of well-paying industrial jobs.

Last month, Stroh Brewing Co. announced plans to close its 430-worker Halethorpe brewery.

Also last month, Bethlehem Steel Corp. said it would sell or shut its 103-year-old Sparrows Point shipyard, which has 700 workers.

Aiming to present the flip side of the business story, Ruppersberger and Robert L. Hannon, executive director of the county's Department of Economic Development, issued a report spotlighting businesses coming to the county.

That report, based on data compiled by the department, found: In fiscal 1996, the economic development staff helped persuade 34 companies to move to the county, expand their operations or stay put.

The companies represent 3,580 jobs created or saved and more than $155 million in new investment -- and include the new T. Rowe Price financial center in Owings Mills and a new Hampton Inn in White Marsh.

Other examples:

Sweetheart Cup's decision to consolidate its headquarters and manufacturing operations in the county and Tessco Technologies' move to consolidate its headquarters and distribution center in Hunt Valley.

Financial assistance

The county provided financial assistance to 12 companies -- totaling $820,000 in loans, $660,000 in conditional grants and $450,000 in guarantees.

The county earned a AAA bond rating from all three major rating agencies -- one of just five U.S. counties to do so.

The report documents slight progress in some areas. For instance, in fiscal 1994, the economic development department worked with nearly 30 companies -- and created or saved 3,400 jobs, according to county records.

Entertainment complex

And, following Ruppersberger's theme, the county plans a news briefing today to disclose details of a new $35 million family entertainment and shopping complex -- The Avenue at White Marsh.

Also, the county is continuing an effort to shore up its aging east side.

Still, not all county business proposals are getting smoothly off the ground.

For instance, a plan to build a 10,000-seat arena in southwestern Baltimore County has stalled at Ruppersberger's door -- with the Democratic county executive reluctant to free public money to get the project off the ground.

However, Ruppersberger and Hannon emphasized the county's progress yesterday.

'Exciting times'

"There's an ancient Chinese proverb that says, 'May you be born in exciting times,' " Hannon told the business group. "Today in Baltimore County, we live in very exciting times."

The financial presentation came during the county's 1996 Business Awards.

Nine companies get awards

Nine companies were cited for their "outstanding contribution to the county's quality of life and economic stability."

They were:

DAP Inc., Port City Press, The Open Door Inc., Porters Seneca Marina, Eddie's of Roland Park, Joseph S. Parker Co., Oak Crest Village, the Chesapeake Country Music Festival Foundation and GCI Corp.

Pub Date: 11/21/96

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