Bechtel to keep jobs in Maryland Sites to be consolidated in new complex in Frederick Co. by 2001

1,600 positions affected

Firm was promised package of state, local incentives

Economic development

July 02, 1998|By Shanon D. Murray | Shanon D. Murray,SUN STAFF

In a decision that will keep 1,600 jobs in Maryland, Bechtel Power Corp. said yesterday that it would consolidate its headquarters and other operations in a new complex in Frederick County.

The international engineering and construction firm employs 750 its Gaithersburg headquarters and another 850 engineering and administrative workers in temporary facilities in Frederick. Those jobs will be consolidated in a new 475,000-square-foot, four-building complex that should be completed by 2001, said Bob Palmer, spokesman for Bechtel Power, a subsidiary of San Francisco-based Bechtel Group Inc.

State officials said the company would receive a package of state and local incentives but declined to disclosed details.

The company announced in January that it was considering a move because of high rents at its Montgomery County location.

"The market has become so cost-competitive," Palmer said yesterday. "It was important to cut overhead."

Frederick, Gaithersburg, Virginia and West Virginia headed the list of options, with Frederick winning out because of its affordable office space, Palmer said.

Office space in Frederick costs about two-thirds of what it costs in Gaithersburg, potentially saving the company $3 million a year. The company has been in Gaithersburg since the 1960s, Palmer said.

"This is outstanding news," said James D. Fielder, acting secretary of the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. "This demonstrates that the state of Maryland can hold on to companies.

"For a business to choose Maryland as a location when they could have chosen other states says that the business climate is improving," Fielder said.

The Bechtel announcement comes a month after the Baltimore-Washington regional headquarters of Bell Atlantic Mobile, the wireless subsidiary of Bell Atlantic Corp., said it will move to Howard County after 14 years in Silver Spring. The company had considered moving its 300 employees to Virginia. Last month the state's Legislative Policy Committee approved a $1.5 million loan for the headquarters from the Sunny Day Fund.

The loans are attractive to businesses because they come with below-market rates and can be deferred or even forgiven altogether if a company complies with agreed-upon development goals.

Regarding Bechtel, Fielder would not discuss details of the state's incentive plan. "We have continued to negotiate with [the company] what would be an appropriate level and that hasn't been resolved at this point," he said.

Besides lease costs, Bechtel officials said, issues such as potential state and local incentives, where employees reside and the distance to Baltimore-Washington International and Dulles International airports weighed in their decision.

Pub Date: 7/02/98

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