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Baltimore County Now

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Keyword: manufacturing

photo of GM WHite Marsh plantManufacturing, of Course!

Manufacturing, for many, harkens to World War II, when Baltimore Bombers were built at Glenn L. Martin and steel churned from Sparrows Point.

The legacy smokestack industries as we knew them are gone, but Baltimore County manufacturing has kept what is vital to compete in the 21st century: innovation, precision, and a skilled workforce with generations of success in making things.

County Has Largest Number of Manufacturers in Maryland

National Manufacturing Month is more than another name for October. It’s a time to celebrate the 14,000 manufacturing jobs in Baltimore County. With 839 companies, Baltimore County has the largest number of manufacturers in Maryland, according to the Maryland Workforce Exchange.  

Whether it’s aerospace defense, bio tech, industrial, pharmaceutical, information technology, apparel, food, or life sciences, a variety of manufacturers call Baltimore County home. Thousands work at McCormick, Stanley Black and Decker and BD Diagnostic Systems, each with Baltimore manufacturing legacies going back more than a hundred years.

No more 19th century manufacturing and R&D here! For example, McCormick’s Technical Innovation Center is equipped with idea lounges, whiteboards and test kitchens - think “Google” for food. The GM plant in White Marsh with its all-white interior, looking as crisp as an Apple store, manufactures hybrid transmissions and motors for electric cars.

Advanced, precision manufacturing can be found on all sides of the county. Middle River is home to Lockheed Martin and Middle River Aircraft systems, which produce advanced global security and aerospace technology. Textron Systems develops unmanned systems in Cockeysville, while Zentech in Windsor Mill is making circuit boards for defense, aerospace, medical, and communications. 

On the “delicious” side… there are headquarters and manufacturing for nutrition and weight loss company Medifast, Michele’s Granola, and Tessamae’s All Natural food products.

Why Here?

So, why do 839 companies make things here? Baltimore County is in the center of the mid-Atlantic market, with a robust freight system, connected highways, a world-class port, and available industrial and flex sites. As these companies grow and implement even more advanced technologies, they find a skilled workforce trained to innovate.

The Education Connection

bwtech@UMBC and the Towson Incubator are cultivation hubs for innovative thinkers. Baltimore County’s Fab Lab, one of the only 3-D fabrication labs open to the public in the Mid-Atlantic, is putting inventors and students at the helm of laser cutters, 3-D printers and prototyping. Recently, the Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) announced a course for Design Fabrications and Advanced Manufacturing – a two year associates degree to give students essential skills in the new world of advanced manufacturing.

The new Sollers Point Technical High School, located in Dundalk, is a great example of what’s possible. The high school feels like a college campus outfitted with professional grade mechanical shops where students learn advanced circuitry and hydraulics.

Designing Workforce Training Around Employers’ Needs

Baltimore County Job Centers are providing training designed around employers talent needs. The Department of Economic and Workforce Development is working with CCBC and other vendors to offer state-of-the-art training – usually vetted by businesses themselves – in high demand occupations like project management, health services, information technology, diesel service mechanics, commercial construction and real estate. A specialized manufacturing program is being considered for the upcoming year.

More than Just Conveyor Belts

Manufacturing is not a one-direction conveyor belt anymore. So when you’re sitting back after a hard day at work, enjoying a Baltimore County-made beverage from DuClaw or Heavy Seas, think about how manufacturing has changed. And celebrate advanced manufacturing’s multi-directional network of ideas.

Bryan Dunn
Baltimore County Economic and Workforce Development

photo of Star of Bethlehem at Sparrows PointKevin Kamenetz, Baltimore County Executive

It’s hard to find a longtime Baltimore County resident who doesn’t know someone who worked at Sparrows Point -- a family member, a friend, a neighbor, or a co-worker.  Over more than 125 years, tens of thousands of men and women worked at the Sparrows Point steel mill, and at many other businesses connected to steelmaking.

The Point provided good paying jobs that supported families for generations.

Working here was more than a job.  Whether you were in the hot mill, the tin mill or the cold mill; whether you worked in the office or drove a truck, working at the Point meant knowing that your hard work was making a difference.

Baltimore County steel helped keep America strong -- it was vital to the effort during two World Wars. Baltimore County steel stands in our nation’s infrastructure, from the Golden Gate Bridge to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.   

Part of my job as Baltimore County Executive is to step back and look at the big picture, to see how we can make the most of what makes our County great. At Sparrows Point, I see everything we need to bring back jobs for this generation -- and for generations to come.

The basis for our optimism is simple. Sparrows Point has a unique combination of assets that just can’t be found anywhere else along the East Coast: more than five square miles of industrially zoned land, deepwater access, and infrastructure and transportation, including rail service right to the front door.

Most exciting are the opportunities for expansion of the Port and port-related uses. We have every reason to believe that the Port could easily bring 10,000 new, family-supporting jobs back to the Point.  Advanced manufacturing, distribution and logistics, and clean energy could add even more jobs.    

There’s one more vital asset:  we have people who work hard and work smart.  These are workers who know what it means to put in a good day’s work for a good day’s pay. 

Let’s face it: being a steelworker wasn’t the easiest job. The work was always hard and often dangerous. It took a combination of brains and brawn. But talk to any steelworker from any generation, and you’ll learn there’s something about working here that created a special bond that will last for generations, through good times and bad.

Shortly after the mighty L-furnace was built, steelworkers welded the “Star of Bethlehem” to its tower and lit it as a symbol of strength, pride and hope. I am pleased that the new owners of the property, Sparrows Point Terminal, are preserving the Star to help all of us, and future generations, stay connected to these values.

Let’s join with former steelworkers and their families as we look toward a bright future for the men and women of steel. We can all learn from their legacy.

photo of Reliable Churchill ribbin-cutting

Rick Johnson, Business Development Representative, Baltimore County Department of Economic and Workforce Development

It’s sometimes hard to say why a certain area seems to suddenly become hot for new business activity. In the case of White Marsh and Middle River, the attraction is clear: availability of industrially-zoned land, easy access to Interstate 95, Rte. 43, and Pulaski Highway, and opportunities to find or construct the perfect building that not only meets a company’s needs today, but allows room to grow.

The past few months have seen big momentum for these eastern Baltimore County business communities.  Here’s a snapshot of what’s new and what’s on the horizon in White Marsh Middle River.

Bottling Group, LLC, a division of PepsiCo, Inc. inked a lease for 25,400 square feet in a new 60,000 square foot warehouse and distribution facility under construction in the White Marsh Business Park. By mid-2015, you can expect trucks to start moving products such as Pepsi, 7-Up and Gatorade out of the new facility and onto the interstate.  With high demand for warehouse distribution space, there’s room to double the warehouse space at this transportation-advantage site.

After searching for more than five years, Reliable Churchill, the state’s largest spirits distributor, opened a new 449,000-square-foot office-warehouse complex off Tangier Drive in the Crossroads @95 complex.  Kevin Dunn, Reliable Churchill's CEO, said that "the building and the location are a perfect match. Our new office and warehouse operation is just minutes from I-95 and gives us the space we need to grow and be more efficient. The move to Baltimore County has allowed us to continue deliveries to our customers throughout the region without interruption."  More than 500 workers made the move with Reliable Churchill from Anne Arundel County to Middle River.

Vac Pac, a family-owned custom food packaging manufacturer, has moved to Middle River, purchasing a 46,000 square foot building on Middle River Road.  Vac Pac designs, prints and manufactures specialized bags and pouches for bakery, poultry, meat, seafood, and industrial applications. Founded in 1949, Vac Pac is a leader in high temperature packaging, holding patents for bag design and enjoys a close partnership with Reynolds Industrial Films. Vac Pac exports finished products around the world through partnerships in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Korea, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom. “We are looking forward to a vast increase in operational efficiency, and the excellent location will help us serve our local, national, and global customers more effectively, said Matt Tary, President of Vac Pac. “This facility will serve as our center piece for continued expansion and development into new products and new markets. We are also incredibly grateful for the continued support of Baltimore County. Our whole team is excited and looking forward to the move.” 

What’s ahead.

Cheseapeake Real Estate Group has two buildings under construction along Route 43 in the Crossroads @95 business park. A 435,000 square foot Class A building on Tangier Drive will feature ample car and trailer parking. A 100,685 square foot warehouse and distribution building at 11501 Pocomoke Court is expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015.  Carpet Consultants, a provider of residential and commercial flooring products, has signed a lease for approximately 18,000 square feet of space.  The company, which markets a full range of products including carpeting, hardwood, laminate, tile and stone, intends to relocate its entire operation to the new building.      

St. John Properties Inc. is nearing completion of a 51,000 SF Class A flex building at 11630 Crossroads Circle. The location is scheduled for occupancy by March, 2015.  St. John anticipates breaking ground on two more office and flex buildings in 2015.

“The business mo” just keeps moving forward. 

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