JCB has Georgia on its mind

British company moving headquarters out of White Marsh

Construction equipment

January 15, 2000|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

JCB Inc., a British maker of construction machinery, said yesterday that it is moving its North American headquarters from White Marsh to a suburb of Savannah, Ga.

The White Marsh facility employs about 90 people and serves as a headquarters and a distribution site. The company said it has not decided if the distribution site, where fewer than half of the 90 employees work, will remain in operation.

JCB broke ground in October 1998 for a new equipment-manufacturing facility in Pooler, just outside Savannah. It began production this month with about 100 employees but will add about 450 during the next several years.

Fronda Cohen, spokeswoman for the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development, said neither the county nor the state offered JCB an incentive package to get the manufacturing facility in the Baltimore area.

"We offered them opportunities and asked to present a package of real estate and site opportunities to remain in the area, and the company declined," she said. "Their response was that they were focusing their search south of Virginia."

States such as Maryland, where labor unions are strong, have for years been losing manufacturing jobs to overseas plants and to Southern states where the cost of labor is much cheaper.

The new Allison Transmission plant being built by parent company General Motors Corp. in White Marsh is the state's first new heavy-manufacturing facility in 30 years.

JCB officials in White Marsh, on Route 7, just north of Route 43, declined to comment on why they chose Savannah, referring questions to their United Kingdom headquarters. No one there could be reached for comment.

When JCB broke ground for its new facility, then-Gov. Zell Miller said, "We are extremely fortunate that such a world-class organization has come into our state and is making a real commitment to utilizing Georgia manpower and resources as the facility takes shape."

Rebecca Thompson, spokeswoman for the Georgia Department of Industry, Trade & Tourism, said yesterday that the state offered JCB its traditional incentive package, which includes corporate income tax credits and sales-tax exemptions. She said additional incentives were likely to be provided on the local level.

The new $62 million plant is 500,000 square feet, and the site encompasses more than 1,000 acres. It is JCB's first manufacturing facility outside the United Kingdom.

"It is JCB's plan to strengthen our position alongside the giants of our industry in the United States," parent company Chairman Anthony Bamford said at the time of the groundbreaking. "To do that we need to manufacture here, to be accepted as a local company, and to achieve an impressive share of the U.S. market, which is the world's largest in our industry."

The parent company, privately held J. C. Bamford Excavators Ltd., has annual worldwide sales of about $1.4 billion. It is the world's fifth-largest construction equipment manufacturer and competes with companies such as John Deere and Caterpillar.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.