The president and chief executive officer of W. R. Grace & Co. said yesterday that the relocation of the chemical company's worldwide headquarters to Columbia later this year will create 80 jobs, bringing the number of employees in Maryland to 1,100.
Paul J. Norris, who also serves as W. R. Grace's chairman, said at the annual stockholders meeting at the Sheraton Columbia Hotel that the company's move from Boca Raton, Fla., to an existing site in Columbia will begin in July and be completed in September.
The new jobs, Norris said, will be primarily in the legal, finance and human resources administration departments.
"Being in Florida made it very difficult to have day-to-day contact with the businesses," said Norris, who joined W. R. Grace as president and CEO in November, and became chairman in January. Relocating the corporate headquarters to Columbia "makes it extremely effective and relatively easy."
About 400 people are to be employed at the 150-acre site at 7500 Grace Drive when the move is complete. Grace Davison's manufacturing plant in Curtis Bay employs about 700 people.
W. R. Grace will have an annual payroll of $67 million, and spend an estimated $4.7 million in state payroll taxes. Annual local expenditures are expected to be $30.9 million for supplies and services, $24.7 million for environmental protection, $17.5 million for utilities and $1.5 million for state sales tax.
The company's 1998 annual report showed $1.46 billion in sales and revenue and a net loss of $184 million. Excluding assorted restructuring charges and reserves taken to cover asbestos liabilities, earnings from continuing operations were $88 million, or $1.18 per share.
Norris said W. R. Grace's goal is to exceed $2 billion in revenue by 2001 with double-digit annual earnings growth. "Grace today is not the same Grace it was a few years ago," he said. "Our job is to build the Grace of tomorrow."
Among those in attendance at the shareholders meeting -- the first since W. R. Grace announced its plans to relocate its corporate headquarters -- were James N. Robey, Howard County's chief executive, and Richard W. Story, executive director of the county's Economic Development Authority.