Booming firm is threatening to leave state Creditrust seeks state, local incentives to keep it in Maryland

150 new workers a month

Debt-collection agency in Woodlawn faults Baltimore County aid

Economic development

December 18, 1998|By Kevin L. McQuaid | Kevin L. McQuaid,SUN STAFF

Creditrust Corp., which says it didn't get $850,000 in financial incentives that Baltimore County had promised, is starting to look for new office space and is considering relocating the rapidly growing firm out of state.

The Woodlawn debt collection company, which is adding 150 employees a month to its current roster of 650, will formulate a short list of sites and expects to make a decision in the next two months.

"We're definitely a growing company, we are putting on a lot of people, and we are currently looking at all of our options for growth in and out of state," said Richard J. Palmer, a Creditrust vice president and its chief financial officer. "We're anticipating we'll need to grow quite a bit."

Although Creditrust occupies just 56,000 square feet of office space in two locations in Baltimore County, the company estimates that it will require roughly three times that amount when its leases expire in 2002.

The company is beginning its search now in the event it decides to consolidate space and construct new offices.

At 150,000 square feet, its office requirements would be nearly as large as that of Piper & Marbury, the state's largest law firm.

Creditrust's headquarters occupy 20,000 square feet in a three-story building at 7000 Security Blvd., and it maintains a 36,000-square-foot call center at 1705 Whitehead Road, both in Woodlawn.

Like Marriott International Inc., another major employer threatening to leave Maryland, at least part of Creditrust's consideration will come down to financial incentives offered by the state and local jurisdictions.

"We'll definitely be looking for the best bottom line deal," Palmer said. "Our preference is to stay in Maryland, but it will help if the state and the county make our decision easier."

And like Marriott, which has complained about Maryland's "stifling" business environment, Creditrust also has an ax to grind.

The company contends that the state and Baltimore County withdrew a pledge of $850,000 in training dollars and employment tax credits.

County economic development officials, who could not be reached for comment yesterday, contend that Creditrust failed to respond to the financial aid offer by a set deadline and later declined it.

The company says that as a result, it will expand its search to Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Virginia.

Richard C. Mike Lewin, the state's new economic development secretary, said he intends to investigate Creditrust's claims and future space needs.

Pub Date: 12/18/98

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