Home Depot to open unit in W. Md.

Distribution center near Hagerstown to employ 230

January 13, 2004|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,SUN STAFF

The Home Depot Inc. will open a distribution center just outside Hagerstown, adding about 230 jobs to a county that's had recent success luring some well-known corporations to the western side of the state.

The home improvement company announced yesterday that it has picked a location near Interstates 70 and 81 and expects to begin shipping products out of the facility next month.

It is leasing a little more than half of a building that's been vacant since the hardware company TruServ Corp. left about a year ago.

Home Depot has two other distribution centers in Maryland, in Glen Burnie and in Glenn Dale in Prince George's County, along with 35 stores and two EXPO Design Center locations. It employs 6,700 in the state.

State and Washington County officials wouldn't reveal the full incentive package they offered but said the company will receive $405,000 for the first -- and the only definite -- phase of the project.

Part of that is a $75,000 work-force training grant; the rest are loans that won't have to be repaid if the company fulfills its job creation promises.

"They made it very economically attractive for us," said Kent Knutson, the company's vice president for government relations, adding that the existing facility was another factor because it saved time.

"There's been a fair amount of economic development going on around there, so clearly it's a hot spot."

County officials consider the deal a coup. "It's always good when you get a name such as Home Depot, which is a leader in the commercial community," said Jim Kercheval, a Washington County commissioner and small-business owner.

"You're known by the company you keep."

Last year the county was picked as the site of a FedEx Ground distribution center and an Intelsat satellite communications teleport, while a nearly $5 million incentive package from the government convinced automaker AB Volvo to invest $150 million in its Hagerstown Mack Truck plant rather than shut it down.

Lowe's Cos. Inc. announced last week that it will expand its flatbed distribution operations in Hagerstown, adding 10 jobs.

The Home Depot distribution center will supply faucets, fixtures, bath accessories and decorative door hardware to the Mid-Atlantic and New England.

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