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Growth, the final frontier

High-tech company moves into bigger space

High-tech company moves into bigger space

October 18, 2006|by KAREN HANNA

HAGERSTOWN - A high-tech firm that began in a small space at Hagerstown Community College celebrated its expansion Tuesday into a warehouse where workers are making communications possible miles above the earth.

AMERICOM Government Services officially moved into its new 30,000-square-foot home Tuesday during a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the company's facility on Insurance Way. The company provides land-based electronics equipment and communications satellites to clients that include the military and Federal Aviation Administration, Vice President David M. Fields said.

"There's a lot to be done, and Hagerstown is the right location for us," President and CEO David Helfgott told a crowd of about 40 employees and officials who turned out for the ribbon-cutting.

U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., members of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission and all of the Washington County Commissioners but William J. Wivell were on hand for the ceremony.

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Bartlett said the company's expansion was the "fruit of our ... incubators," and he peppered Fields with questions as Fields, who is in charge of technical operations, led a short tour of the facility.

"I hope this is the beginning of something really great here in Hagerstown," Bartlett said.

Fields said he and another person began the firm in 1999 at Hagerstown Community College's Technical Innovation Center. Since 2004, it has been part of SES AMERICOM, and it now employs about 20 people, Fields said.

Construction on the facility began last October, and employees moved into their new work space sometime last month, Fields said.

The company got a $40,000 conditional grant from Washington County and support from the state to expand, and the property's developer invested $3.3 million, Fields said. But, according to Fields, the decision to remain in Hagerstown was not just about money.

"It just made sense for us to build it up rather than take it apart," said Fields, who earned a degree in engineering from Pennsylvania State University.

Edward Horowitz, president and CEO of SES AMERICOM, said he believes the region's talent will support the company as it continues to grow.

"We have a big mission ahead of us, we have great people who work with us and we have big dreams," Horowitz said.

According to Fields, the company owns land behind its new facility where it can expand as contract orders require. About two-thirds of AMERICOM Government Services' workload comes from the military, he said.

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