New plant likely to bring Pa. workers

Hagerstown jobs could come later

May 22, 2007|By Jamie Smith Hopkins | Jamie Smith Hopkins,Sun reporter

The Hagerstown area may be getting a 150-job manufacturing and assembly plant next year, but local residents hoping for jobs will probably have to wait.

Grinding-system maker Cinetic Landis Grinding Corp.'s current facility is only 10 miles north of the Western Maryland city, in Waynesboro, Pa. - which means no 150-job hiring spree.

Tim Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said he's expecting significant hiring within a few years, though, as a wave of retirements create openings.

"They've told us that about 50 percent of their work force will be in the retirement age in the next five years," he said yesterday, as the state officially announced the impending move. "We see this one as being a very nice win for our community. Anytime that you are maintaining or creating manufacturing jobs in this day and age is important."

Manufacturers have been cutting for years in Maryland - 2,300 positions in the past 12 months alone, many with good pay and benefits.

The Cinetic jobs moving to Washington County pay "in excess of $20 an hour," Troxell said.

The company could not be reached for comment yesterday. In a statement, Cinetic said it wants to build a new facility to open in July 2008 and settled on Newgate Industrial Park, near the intersection of Interstates 81 and 70 for reasons including transportation access.

Mike Ross, president of the Franklin County Area Development Corp., a quasi-governmental economic development organization that tried to keep Cinetic in Waynesboro, said the loss was more "symbolically" disappointing than economically troubling.

Waynesboro and Hagerstown are so close, they're part of the same regional economy. But Landis Tool Co. - as it is called locally despite various name and ownership changes - has a history in Waynesboro that dates back more than a century, Ross said.

"We offered very aggressive incentives to keep them here," he said. Pennsylvania "matched or exceeded what the state of Maryland offered, so there obviously had to be other factors."

State and county incentives to entice Cinetic to move to Maryland totaled just under $600,000. Most of that is in the form of "conditional loans" that the company won't have to pay back if it keeps its promise of 150 jobs; the remainder is a grant of up to $45,000 for work force training. The company will also be eligible for a state and possibly also a county job-creation tax credit, which would be over and above the $600,000 total.

Cinetic's precision grinding systems are primarily sold to automotive and diesel powertrain companies. The facility it will move to Washington County employs assembly technicians, engineers, machinists and executives running the operation, a subsidiary of the French firm Fives-Lille Group.

"Anytime you're able to land that kind of manufacturing and engineering expertise is a boon," said Dominick Murray, the state's assistant secretary for regional development.

jamie.smith.hopkins@baltsun.com

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