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Technology park signs up occupant

A sattelite communications company bought 55 acres at the business park

A sattelite communications company bought 55 acres at the business park

January 22, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Allegheny Energy and Mountainside Teleport Corp. have completed a $2.44 million deal for the international satellite communications company to become the first occupant of Friendship Technology Park.

Mountainside bought 55 acres at the business park along Downsville Pike southwest of Hagerstown for $1.1 million, Allegheny spokesman Guy Fletcher said.

The remaining $1.34 million is a promissory note to pay for construction of an entry road to the business park, Fletcher said.

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Construction is already under way on the road and a technical building for Mountainside, Fletcher said. The ground support operations for its satellite network will require construction of satellite antennas or dishes.

"We're excited about this," Fletcher said.

"It shows that Allegheny Energy and Washington County are serious about attracting high-tech jobs to the area. Hopefully, this will be the beginning," Fletcher said.

The local 24-hour operation is expected to start in April or May, said Allison Scuriatti, a spokeswoman for Mountainside's parent company, Intelsat Global Service Corp. in Washington, D.C.

The teleport at Friendship will be one of five teleports the company uses worldwide to relay voice, data, Internet and video information between telecommunications ground networks and 13 of Intelsat's 25 satellites, Scuriatti said.

In addition to an approximately 39,000-square-foot building, up to six satellite antennas will go up initially, Scuriatti said. The antennas will be 11 meters or 16 meters in diameter.

Intelsat officials expect the local site to have up to 15 employees in two years, Scuriatti said. The company projects it will have 50 to 60 employees there within five years, she said.

The first employees will be senior-level, specialized engineering and technical workers who probably will be brought into the area rather than hired locally, Scuriatti said.

Scuriatti didn't have a pay range for those workers, but agreed it would be more than $40,000 a year.

Support staff could be hired locally, but Scuriatti had no timetable for hiring.

Mountainside is getting a $600,000 loan from the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development (DBED), spokeswoman Tori Leonard said.

The loan converts to a grant if Mountainside creates 60 full-time, permanent jobs by Dec. 31, 2005, and 100 jobs by Dec. 31, 2008. The company also must invest $40 million in capital projects by Dec. 31, 2008.

Mountainside also may be eligible for up to $100,000 in work force training money from the state and $1.6 million in tax credits from Washington County's New Jobs Tax Credit program, according to DBED.

To be eligible for the real and personal property tax credits, a company must construct or expand by at least 30,000 square feet and employ 50 people within two years, said Tim Troxell, executive director for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission.

If Mountainside doesn't meet the conditions, it will have to pay the full tax amounts, Troxell said.

Of those 50 jobs, more than half must pay 150 percent or more of the average weekly wage of Washington County workers, or more than $837 a week, Troxell said.

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