Boat maker plans Shore plant

Aided by Md., county loans of $1.1 million, Silverton to employ 175 in Salisbury

August 08, 2002|By Kristine Henry | Kristine Henry,SUN STAFF

A powerboat maker plans to open a manufacturing plant in Salisbury early next year with the help of $1.1 million in low-interest loans from the state and Wicomico County, state officials said yesterday.

Silverton Marine Corp., based in New Jersey, said it plans to employ about 175 people at the plant, which would house a metal shop and fiberglass room to make parts - such as ladders and rail guards - for the boats. Pay is expected to start at $20,000 a year for semiskilled laborers and $48,000 for supervisors, the company said.

The state's Department of Business and Economic Development is providing a 20-year, $600,000 loan at an interest rate of 3 percent. It is contingent on Silverton's employing 100 people by 2005. If it employs fewer than that, the interest rate will increase.

Salisbury-Wicomico County Economic Development Inc., the county's nonprofit development arm, is providing a $500,000 loan at a 5 percent interest rate, with no specific employment requirement.

Silverton plans to move into a now-vacant 66,000-square-foot building at Northwood Industrial Park that once housed Webcraft Technologies, a printing company that consolidated its operations out of state several years ago.

Silverton said it hopes to close on the property in mid-November - depending on when it can get operating permits from the state - and be operating about 60 days after the deal is completed.

About 60 workers will be hired in the first year, said Jim Buck, Silverton's treasurer, 60 more the next year and about 50 the year after that. The company, which is nonunion, offers health care benefits, a 401(k) plan and an employee stock ownership plan.

The new jobs are "a big deal to us," said David J. Ryan, executive director of the county's economic development agency. "One job is a big deal to us, so 175 is a good shot in the arm."

The industrial park is in a state enterprise zone, meaning Silverton will get income tax credits for job creation and reduced real estate taxes on any improvements it makes.

The county's unemployment rate in June, the latest figures available, was 5.2 percent, compared with a statewide unemployment rate of 4.8 percent, according to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Silverton, whose boats range in size from 30 feet to 45 feet and retail for up to $500,000, is part of Luhrs Marine Group, a privately held company based in Florida that owns three other boat manufacturers. Silverton, with about 400 employees, declined to disclose its annual revenue.

Buck said the boat maker chose the Salisbury site after looking at locations in Delaware and Pennsylvania because the area's economy seemed to be growing, a work force was available and "the state and county were very generous with the loans."

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