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Governor OKs grant for TruServ property

September 15, 1998|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Maryland Gov. Parris N. Glendening has approved granting $1.51 million to Washington County to help buy land for the planned TruServ distribution center off Hopewell Road, a spokesman for the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development said Tuesday afternoon.

The grant, funded with federal money, is conditional, requiring the Chicago-based wholesale hardware cooperative to provide 308 new jobs, with 51 percent filled by people of low to moderate income, said spokesman Andrew Spitzler.

The county will "regrant" the Community Development Block Grant to the Tri-County Council for Western Maryland, which will buy roughly 70 acres of land at the Hunters Green Business Park for the project, then sell it to TruServ Corp. at a reduced cost, Spitzler said.

"We are a conduit because they cannot formally accept it," said Washington County Commissioners President Gregory I. Snook.

Construction has already started on the 800,000-square-foot warehouse, which will be similar to the Staples Distribution Center just west of it, he said.

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On Tuesday morning, the Washington County Commissioners voted to approve a final agreement on the economic development grant between the county and the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development.

The grant will benefit the county by providing both jobs for people in the community and tax revenue without a cent of investment by the county except for some staff time, Snook said.

It looks like the employee expense will be partially reimbursed by the grant money, he said.

Chicago-based TruServ Corp. estimates a roughly $40 million capital investment, including $900,000 for land, $6 million for site preparation, $20 million for the building and $13 million for equipment, according to Spitzler.

The warehouse will be expandable to 1.2 million square feet, he said.

According to a letter from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development, TruServ will have to hire the workers at a minimum $7.88 an hour.

The company will have to keep them on the payroll for at least 10 years or return a prorated portion of the grant, according to the letter.

County officials have estimated the project will bring in $300,000 in county taxes.

"TruServ's commitment to establishing a distribution facility in a state enterprise zone in Washington County is good news for Western Maryland," Glendening was quoted as saying in a press release Tuesday.

"This partnership between the state, TruServ, Washington County and the Tri-County Council for Western Maryland will create more than 300 new jobs, half of which will go to low- and moderate-income citizens," he said.

TruServ is the nation's largest wholesale hardware cooperative. The cooperative's retail stores include True Value, ServiStar, Coast to Coast, Coast to Coast Home & Auto, Grand Rental Station, Taylor Rental Center, Home & Garden Showplace and Induserve Supply.

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