Alliance claims credit for economic growth

Report notes 8 companies lured to settle, expand here

May 22, 2002|By Meredith Cohn | Meredith Cohn,SUN STAFF

The public-private group charged with luring and retaining businesses in the Baltimore region reported that it aided eight companies that set up shop or expanded last year.

The Greater Baltimore Alliance, funded with corporate and taxpayer money, said in a recent report that, over the next three years, those companies are expected to invest $30.6 million, hire 1,410 people, take over 544,000 square feet of space and pay almost $32.2 million in salaries.

Overall, the results were good, considering the uncertain economy that has business leaders putting their expansion plans on hold, said Ioanna T. Morfessis, president and chief executive of the group.

The alliance works to build relationships with corporate decision-makers who are weighing a move to or expansion in the Baltimore area. Usually, Morfessis said, a decision is made in 18 months to three years, but lately companies are taking up to four years.

"We're holding our own right now in light of what's happening in the global economy," she said. "Business growth has not been what any of us thought it would be in the last year. ... It will be more of the same for the rest of this year," she said.

Morfessis, in her position about five years, hired PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP to assess how the alliance is doing. Over the next 10 years, the eight companies are expected to contribute $1.1 billion directly to the economy through such things as wages, construction costs and taxes, according to a draft of the accounting firm's report. Indirectly, spinoff businesses and jobs could add $2.4 billion to the economy.

PricewaterhouseCoopers puts the economic impact of GBA-aided companies over the past five years at $10 billion. Jobs created totaled 9,325.

The eight new or expanding operations include Jos. A. Bank Clothiers Inc., World Relief, Toyota Financial Services, Global Payments Inc., BB&T Corp., ADP Inc., Signode Corp. and Master Halco Inc.

The accounting firm's report does not address incentives offered to the companies from the state and localities. Those incentives include loans, grants, tax credits and work-force-training money that amounts to hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development said the state gave the following aid: Jos. A. Bank, $131,250 loan that could be converted to a grant; World Relief, $100,000 loan that could be converted to a grant; Toyota, $300,000 loan that could be converted to a grant and work-force-training money; Global Payments, job-creation tax credits; Master Halco, job-training money.

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