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T. Rowe Price offered $810K incentive

February 17, 2009|By HEATHER KEELS

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The Washington County Commissioners agreed Tuesday to offer an $810,000 incentive to help T. Rowe Price Group Inc. build a backup data-recovery center in Washington County that will create at least 17 new jobs.

T. Rowe Price, a global investment management organization based in Baltimore, plans to build a 60,000-square-foot center in Friendship Technology Park, off Downsville Pike south of Hagerstown, said Timothy R. Troxell, executive director of the Hagerstown-Washington County Economic Development Commission. The center will be used to store critical company data remotely as a precaution against emergencies, Troxell said.

Washington County's $810,000 contribution is a conditional loan, which will be forgiven as long as T. Rowe Price fulfills its commitment to invest about $75 million in the project and create at least 17 new jobs, Troxell said.

Taxes on the new center will more than make up for the $810,000 contribution, Troxell said. The county will take in about $7 million in real estate taxes on the center over 10 years, Troxell said.

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"It's still a net positive," Commissioner James F. Kercheval said.

The county's funding complements a $300,000 conditional loan from the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. The commissioners voted unanimously to endorse the state loan and approve the county contribution.

Troxell said the center will generate 11 information-technology jobs that pay $60,000 or more and six security jobs that pay about $25,000. A "very minimal number of people" might be transferred from other T. Rowe Price locations, but most will be new hires, Troxell said.

The county funding would be disbursed in annual installments of $135,000 over six years, Troxell said. The commissioners decided to pay the installments out of the county's hotel/motel tax fund.

Economic development officials arrived at the $810,000 figure as a percentage of what T. Rowe Price would have received if it were creating enough jobs to qualify for the county's new jobs tax credit, Troxell said. If the company were creating eight more jobs, it would have qualified for a tax credit of more than $1.6 million, he said.

In a written statement, T. Rowe Price officials said the company chose the Hagerstown area for its backup center because it is convenient to its Baltimore and Owings Mills, Md., locations, but far enough away to be served by a different power company and to provide sufficient telecommunications separation.

The company is in the process of finalizing a land purchase, but does not have a specific timetable for the start of construction, company officials said.

In a written statement from the economic development commission, Troxell said attracting the internationally known company was a testament to the county's pro-business climate.

"The jobs and investment they are creating will help move our local economy forward," he said in the release. "The company is approved for the county's Fast Track Construction Program and we look forward to them breaking ground very soon."

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