5 Howard County companies honored

September 23, 2005|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

Five companies have been honored for significantly enhancing the economy of Howard County in the past year.

The awards, presented annually by the county's Economic Development Authority, recognize firms that expand, create jobs or otherwise strengthen the economic health and business climate in the county.

The firms honored this year were:

American Healthways, the nation's leading provider of disease and health care management systems. The company, based in Nashville, Tenn., established a center in Columbia with 150 employees in 2004, and in December opened a second facility, creating another 200 jobs.

It was the first time American Healthways has opened more than one operation in the same city. The company, ranked by Fortune magazine as one of the top 25 fastest-growing companies for the past three years, announced last month that several new contracts, including a pilot program in Maryland and Washington to provide 20,000 Medicare beneficiaries who have diabetes and congestive heart failure with health information, education and services to assist their care.

LinguaLISTek, a Columbia-based software company founded in 1997. In January, the 130-employee company expanded its headquarters to accommodate growth. Among the company's services is a linguistic unit, which provides experts in 38 languages. The company was recognized this year by Hispanic Business magazine as the 10th fastest-growing Hispanic-owned firm in the county, with sales exceeding $10 million.

The company's founder, Elizabeth Rendon was named the small-business person of the year in 2004 by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Essex Corp., a defense and intelligence firm based in Columbia. It has more than 650 employees, and to accommodate growth it moved into a larger headquarters in Columbia Gateway, the county's premier office park.

The firm is one of the nation's largest intelligence-focused companies, and last month it announced creation of a unit to maximize commercial aspects of the technology and products it has developed.

Dryer's Grand Ice Cream Holding Inc. Late last year, it broke ground on a $200 million expansion of its manufacturing facility in Laurel and a state-of-the-art warehouse, with the potential of creating 300 jobs.

The 600,000-square-foot expansion will process 10 frozen snacks and two packaged ice cream lines, including Haagen Dazs.

Baltimore Aircoil Co., a worldwide manufacturer and marketer of evaporative heat transfer and ice thermal storage products. It was founded in 1938 in Baltimore but now has its headquarters in Howard County.

The company will move next month into new headquarters in the county, which will include the industry's largest research and development laboratory. It employs more than 460 sales representatives in the United States and abroad.

Each of the firms had a "recent, major impact on the economy of Howard County," said Richard W. Story, chief executive officer of the Economic Development Authority. "Four of the five already had a presence in the county and made a conscious decision to expand in the county."

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