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Foreign trade zone proposal submitted

May 10, 2001

Foreign trade zone proposal submitted



By SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

The draft application for a foreign trade zone for Washington County lists seven sites encompassing about 2,310 acres that have been proposed for inclusion in the zone.

The sites include Hagerstown Regional Airport, the Hagerstown Industrial Park and the former Fort Ritchie U.S. Army base.

In foreign trade zones are areas, which can be noncontiguous, companies don't have to pay tariffs when importing products.

It usually takes about a year for a foreign trade zone to be approved, said consultant Joseph Trocino of Trocino & Associates, of Leesburg, Va.

Trocino delivered the application Thursday to the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The Washington County Commissioners and the Hagerstown City Council have endorsed the zone application as have some area business people, the governor, lieutenant governor, Maryland's two U.S. senators, U.S. representative and others.

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The seven sites proposed for inclusion in the foreign trade zone are:

- 638 acres at the former Fort Ritchie Army base.

- 129 acres on two adjacent Mellot Enterprise properties north of Hancock.

- 386 acres at Hagerstown Regional Airport.

- 43 acres at the Hagerstown Industrial Park

- 454.4 acres on 18 parcels of The Bowman Group. One parcel is adjacent to the airport and the other are along the Interstate 81 corridor.

- 574 acres on 11 parcels along the west side of Interstate 81 owned by Tiger Development.

- 80.6 acres belonging to Hub City Labels.

Anton T. Dahbura, corporate vice president of Hub Labels Inc., has said his company would like to be in a foreign trade zone because it would reduce the company's costs when importing equipment for later resale.

The industrial park, Bowman Group, Tiger Development and Hub City Labels will benefit from being near the airport and having access to railroad service.

Trocino is being paid by the state-created PenMar Development Corp., which is to develop the former Army base for business use. PenMar's task is to replace the 2,000 jobs lost when Fort Ritchie closed in September 1998.

A foreign trade zone would help draw businesses there, said Jim LaFleur, PenMar's executive director.

Other businesses could be added to the zone later through a similar lengthy application process.

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