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Center to create 231 jobs

January 13, 2004|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Home Depot will create at least 231 full-time jobs over the next two years and will invest $12.7 million in the former TruServ warehouse that the home improvement company will use as a distribution center, a county economic development official said Monday.

The distribution center in Hunter's Green Business Center began receiving products this month and will start shipping in February, said Atlanta-based Home Depot's spokeswoman Karen Haggerty. The official grand opening is scheduled for May.

Haggerty said the distribution center will serve Home Depot's Your Other Warehouse, which is a plumbing distributor.

Your Other Warehouse sells plumbing supplies, decorative light fixtures and door hardware to wholesalers.

Home Depot officials selected Washington County so they could reach customers in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states, Haggerty said.

Timothy R. Troxell, executive director for the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission, said the county competed with West Virginia and the Carlisle, Pa., area for the distribution center.

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Having the former TruServ distribution center building available worked in Washington County's favor, Troxell said.

"I think it's wonderful that we're being able to put a large employer in a vacant facility," Troxell said.

Home Depot is leasing about 454,000 square feet of the 824,298-square-foot building so there is room to grow if needed, Haggerty and Troxell said.

TruServ, which had 295 workers in early 2002, closed its local distribution center last year. In July, the real estate investment fund New Boston Fund bought the building at 16500 Hunters Green Parkway.

Troxell said the $12.7 million Home Depot will invest in the building is for equipment and renovations.

EDC officials had been in talks with Home Depot since July to bring the distribution center here, Troxell said.

Home Depot could receive $405,000 in grants from the county and state if it meets certain job creation and retainment requirements, EDC Marketing Specialist Cassandra Latimer said.

The funding consists of a $300,000 conditional loan from the Maryland Economic Development Assistance Fund, $75,000 in work-force training from the state and a conditional loan of $30,000 from Washington County, Latimer said.

The $300,000 and $30,000 loans will become grants if Home Depot hires at least 231 permanent full-time employees by Jan. 31, 2006, and retains those jobs until at least Jan. 31, 2009, Latimer said.

The work-force training money is contingent upon the hiring of the 231 employees, Latimer said.

If the goal of 231 employees isn't met, the state and county could prorate how much of the grants have to be paid back based on how many people are hired, she said.

Troxell said he expected the average hourly wage to be $11.50 to $12.

He said he hoped some of the people who recently were laid off in the area will be able to work at Home Depot.

There have been layoffs this year at businesses including GST AutoLeather and Hagerstown Lion Ribbon.

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