Census will generate 2,000 jobs in Rosedale Temporary positions at information center will last about 2 years

May 30, 1998|By June Arney and Larry Carson | June Arney and Larry Carson,SUN STAFF Sun staff writer Liz Atwood contributed to this article.

In a decision that will bring 2,000 temporary jobs to Maryland, the U.S. Census Bureau has chosen a Baltimore County site as one of four locations in the country that will house information centers for the year 2000 census.

The jobs, which will last for about two years, will be targeted at the economically and socially disadvantaged.

The choice of the Rosedale location marks the second consecutive time that an information center for the 10-year census has been placed in Maryland. The 1990 census operated a center in East Baltimore.

"It's good news," said James D. Fielder Jr. acting secretary for Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. "Even if the jobs are of short duration, the skill base will be improved. Those employees become more marketable."

Fielder said his office had been working for more than a year to bring the census jobs to the state. The other sites chosen were: Phoenix; Pomona, Calif.; and a permanent Census Bureau site in Jeffersonville, Ind. Locally, Anne Arundel County and Baltimore City also proposed sites.

The four information centers will help the Census Bureau collect and process about 1 billion pages of census questionnaires, mailed to more than 100 million addresses.

The two-year census project will be managed by TRW Systems and Information Technology Group.

In Rosedale, TRW plans to make $7 million in improvements to the 200,000 square feet of space it is leasing at the Marshfield Business Center on Kelso Drive, which is in an enterprise zone in eastern Baltimore County.

The center is to open Nov. 1, and will remain open two to three years, according to Baltimore County Economic Development Director Robert L. Hannon.

After the census operation is done, the building would be used for warehouse distribution.

The census project will require up to 2,000 workers in Maryland, split between two shifts per day of 900 to 1,000 employees. About 1,500 of the jobs will be full-time temporary positions.

Substantial impact

"I think the economic impact will be significant and substantial, especially when you take into consideration that it provides jobs to the people who need them most," said Walinda West, a spokeswoman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development.

Her office was unable to provide an estimate of the economic impact to the state.

The jobs will range from office administration to mail handling and sorting questionnaires, to scanning forms and data entry. Salaries are to be competitive with similar jobs locally. An exact salary range was not available yesterday.

Maryland was chosen because of its skilled work force, the availability of office space and good cooperation between the state, city and county, TRW officials said.

TRW plans to use small businesses that are owned by women, minorities and disadvantaged persons on the project, and will involve welfare-to-work programs, Job Corps centers, youth work programs and state employment agencies.

$187 million contract

Their contract with the Census Bureau is valued at more than $187 million and represents the first time the census will be done using state-of-the-art imaging technology.

TRW Inc., which had 1997 sales of approximately $12 billion, provides products and services for automotive, space and defense and information technology markets worldwide.

State incentives offered

To bring the census project here, the state offered TRW:

Property and income tax credits for enterprises located in a State Enterprise Zone.

Those credits range from $500 to $3,000 for each new hire, more if disadvantaged workers are hired.

Employee recruitment and screening assistance through the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

The services of a team of senior state and local officials to help facilitate permits, environmental and transportation issues.

Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke said he was happy with the news, even though the center won't be in the city.

"I am always pleased to hear about job creation activities in the region," Schmoke said through a spokesman.

In Baltimore County, the site of the census operation, Baltimore County Executive C. A. Dutch Ruppersberger was enthusiastic. "I'm just very happy that they choose Baltimore County," he said.

"Two thousand jobs are just very important to us. Jobs are one of our highest priorities."

Pub Date: 5/30/98

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