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First Data plans expansion, will add jobs

June 03, 1999|By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

First Data Merchant Services is expanding its Hagerstown operation with the addition of 125,000 square feet of leased warehouse and office space in the Washington County Business Park, the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission said Thursday.

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The expansion will mean a "significant number" of new local jobs, said EDC Marketing Director Thomas B. Riford, who said he was asked by company officials not to throw out any numbers.

The company is reluctant to be specific because there isn't a set number and it doesn't want to be held accountable for an overestimation, Riford said.

"We can't forecast how many," he said.

First Data spokeswoman Elizabeth Sullivan took questions from the Herald-Mail about the expansion but wasn't able to get answers by press time.

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Some employees will be moved from the Western Maryland Parkway campus to the building and new employees will be hired, Riford said.

The building will be used for archival storage, equipment and furniture inventory and office space for several of the Hagerstown business units, he said.

There's room for a lot of people in both office and warehouse jobs in the former Honeywell Inc., building, where the company will expand the interior office space to more than 22,000 square feet, Riford said.

The Hackensack, N.J.-based company, which processes transactions and provides back-office support for credit card issuers, entered a two-year sublease agreement with Honeywell for the building at 100 Jamison Court, according to Riford.

Honeywell, which vacated the building in 1997, is locked into a lease until mid-2001 with the Maryland Economic Development Corp. (MEDCO), a state-created bonding authority for economic development projects, he said.

Riford said the announcement was good news for First Data, Honeywell and Washington County.

He said he was thrilled to see an existing business expanding in the county and creating jobs.

It's also great to see the large building be put to use by a solid company.

"You would not believe the amount of marketing we've put into getting that building filled," said Riford, who said a lot of companies looked at and liked the building but then decided against it for a variety of reasons.

"This is truly a productive reuse of an empty building. Hagerstown and Washington County welcome this kind of existing industry expansion with open arms," Economic Development Commission Chairwoman Suzanne Hayes was quoted as saying in a printed release from Riford.

First Data Merchant Services also leases space at the former Doubleday Building on Hopewell Road and at the Lippincott Williams & Wilkins building on Insurance Way, according to the release.

The company employs 1,650 full-time and 150 part-time workers in Hagerstown, according to the commission's 1999 Business and Industry Directory.

First Data Merchant Services Corporation is a wholly owned subsidiary of First Data Corporation, one of the nation's leading providers of electronic commerce services for hundreds of financial institutions and 2 million merchant locations.

The company's Web site address is www.firstdata.com.

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