Tuesday, September 18 2018
Nearly four years ago, Maryland officials embarked on a new effort to improve the state’s business climate and make it a more welcoming, supportive place for companies from other states to set up shop. Taxes and fees were cut, customer service became a priority, and new incentives were adopted to support business growth and attract new investment to Maryland.
The results have been positive and steady, with nearly 100,000 new jobs added to the economy. The first half of 2018 has seen a slew of businesses operating in other states establishing a presence in Maryland for the first time. From men’s clothing to plastic manufacturing to urban agriculture, these companies are finding what they need in Maryland—and making the Free State’s business community richer and stronger.
Paul Fredrick, an online retailer specializing in high-quality menswear, announced in July that it will move its corporate headquarters from Pennsylvania to Baltimore County, where it plans to lease up to 10,000 square feet and add 70 new jobs over the next five years.
Among the factors that drew the company to the area are a historic industry presence and strong workforce, as well as the state's robust supply and distribution infrastructure.
“Our team is looking forward to being in the greater Baltimore area, which has a long history in the apparel manufacturing business, and where we have the ability to hire from the area’s rich talent pool and terrific local colleges and universities,” said R. Neal Black, CEO of Paul Fredrick.
Black and CFO David Ullman are also no strangers to Maryland: both are former senior executives at the Hampstead-based Jos. A. Bank, and were named to Paul Fredrick’s leadership team earlier this year.
The new headquarters may not be Paul Fredrick’s only new venture in Maryland: while the company has exclusively sold its products via its catalog and website throughout its three-decade history, Paul Fredrick is also considering establishing a retail storefront presence in the Baltimore region.
Baltimore County is also home to a game-changing redevelopment project known as Tradepoint Atlantic, which is transforming a former steel mill into a 3,250-acre, multimodal global logistics center with highway and rail access as well as deepwater berths.
Developers announced in May that Gotham Greens, a New York-based agriculture company known for its unique urban greenhouse in Brooklyn and rooftop farm in Chicago, will occupy 100,000 square feet at Tradepoint to create a state-of-the-art hydroponic greenhouse. They’re the latest company to sign a lease at the development, joining a roster that already includes Amazon.com, Under Armour and FedEx Ground, all of which have chosen Tradepoint to establish sorting and distribution centers.
"Gotham Greens was drawn to the area not just by the facility and its location, but by the ease with which the company fits into Maryland’s agricultural history and culture," CEO Viraj Puri said.
“We’re honored and humbled to join the rich heritage of Maryland farmers, growers, and food producers,” Puri said. “Urban agriculture, at its core, is about reconnecting with the community through food, jobs and economic development. To that end, we’ve found a great partner and are proud to be part of the American industrial turnaround story taking place at Tradepoint Atlantic."
Gotham Greens plans to create more than 60 full-time jobs at Tradepoint, which is located at the site of the former Bethlehem Steel mill, which was itself once a major manufacturer in the Baltimore region.
In 2017, Maryland launched a new effort to spur job growth in the manufacturing sector. The More Jobs for Marylanders program offers tax incentives to manufacturing companies that create jobs, with an additional level of support available to businesses in counties with higher unemployment rates. As of early August, nearly 50 companies have applied for the program, projecting to create nearly 2,000 jobs in total.
Two of those companies, Fabricated Extrusion Company, and Ring Container Technologies, have recently announced plans to come to establish facilities in Western Maryland.
Fabricated Extrusion Company, which provides thermoplastic extrusions for industries including agriculture, construction, transit, medical and refrigeration, will open a headquarters and manufacturing facility in Washington County's City of Hagerstown and plans to create 50 full-time jobs over the next four years.
President Jeff Aichele cited the city’s location as a central reason that the California-based company chose Maryland.
“Expanding our manufacturing facility to Hagerstown gives [us] the opportunity to better service the East Coast," Aichele said. “Hagerstown specifically is uniquely positioned in terms of convenient transportation access and a talented workforce, along with local resources and support for new businesses. We are excited about the opportunity to utilize these resources and develop a partnership with the community."
Local officials say word-of-mouth about the county’s nurturing business climate also played a role in the company’s decision.
Fabricated Extrusion Companies also benefited from conditional loans from both the county and the Maryland Department of Commerce’s Advantage Maryland Fund, and is also eligible for tax benefits including Maryland’s Job Creation Tax Credit, which provide income tax credits for each eligible new job.
Washington County also welcomed Tennessee-based Ring Container Technologies, which opened its 18th manufacturing plant and warehousing facility in Hagerstown this summer.
The company, one of the largest manufacturers of plastic containers in North America, retrofitted an existing facility and created 18 full-time jobs, with more potentially to come.
Drawn to Maryland in part by the More Jobs for Marylanders program, Ring Container Technologies also sees Washington County as a strategic location in the region, according to company officials.
“By locating our facilities closer to our customers, we are able to better meet their needs and support them in future developments,” said Jeff Ullrich, executive vice president of sales and marketing. “We believe that opening a new plant in this area is a great opportunity not only for our company, but also for our customers and the Hagerstown community as a whole.”
In addition to More Jobs for Marylanders program, Ring Container Technologies has applied for the state’s Job Creation Tax Credit, and the new facility is located in a designated “enterprise zone,” making it eligible for ten years of property tax credits. The company also took advantage of Washington County’s Fast Track Construction Program, which expedited the permitting process to help complete the project quickly and under budget.
“There’s never been a better time to do business in Maryland,” said Maryland Commerce Secretary Mike Gill. “We’ve got the right attitude and a focus on providing great customer service; we’ve got great locations and a talented workforce; and we’ve got the tools and the incentives to help companies up shop, grow, and ultimately thrive. Maryland is the place to be.”
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