Halethorpe wiper blade company seeks bond for expansion and renovation

A little more than a year after Alberee Products moved from Baltimore to Halethorpe, the windshield wiper manufacturer has made a push to make its stay more permanent.

On Tuesday, Jan. 31, the Baltimore County Department of Economic Development requested that the County Council authorize the issuance of up to $4.5 million in industrial revenue bonds that would allow the 20-year-old company to buy and renovate its current facility.

The renovations will allow the company to add as many as 27 jobs, pushing its total to as many as 97, according to a release from Baltimore County.

The bond would also allow the company to purchase a rubber extrusion line, a piece necessary for the manufacturing of windshield wiper blades, the release stated.

First District Councilman Tom Quirk, who represents the area, said he expects the County Council to approve the authorization of the bonds at the council session Feb. 6.

If the council authorizes the bonds, Baltimore County would not have any financial liability, said Fronda Cohen, a spokeswoman for the county's Department of Economic Development.

"There's no county money involved," Cohen said. "All we do is due diligence and review and ensure the company in general qualifies for the bond."

Baltimore County can issue industrial revenue bonds up to $10 million, according to a Baltimore County release, to manufacturing companies to use to finance the acquisition of facilities, land and equipment.

Because industrial revenue bonds are exempt from federal and Maryland income tax, the release stated, they have lower interest rates than conventional loans.

The projected interest rate Alberee Products would receive from lender Susquehanna Bank, the release stated, is 4 percent.

Cohen said that Susquehanna Bank would sell the bonds.

A representative from Alberee Products could not be reached for comment.

Alberee Products began leasing the 102,000-square-foot building on Hollins Ferry Road in September 2010 with the intention of purchasing the property, a release from the county stated.

Last October, Chuck Fesler, the president of Alberee Products, said his company decided to leave the city because it couldn't find a facility that could meet its needs as the company's volume increased five- or six-fold.

In a 2010 release, Baltimore County cited the company's exclusive worldwide license agreement to manufacture and sell Goodyear wipers at Costco and other retailers as the reason the company's business has boomed.

A $6 million industrial revenue bond, Fesler noted, made the move to Halethorpe possible.

Alberee Products isn't the only company along Hollins Ferry Road that has found success, Quirk said, citing nearby Heavy Seas microbrewery and Bakery Express, both of which have facilities near the road's ramps to the Baltimore Beltway.

"I'm excited about (Alberee Product's) growth and excited about having this company in Lansdowne," Quirk said. "I think we are in a very transformative period of time in (this area)."

Dan Gundersen, the executive director of Baltimore County Department of Economic Development, said an expansion of manufacturing would benefit other businesses.

"Growth in manufacturing fuels growth in other industries," Gundersen wrote in an email. "Manufacturing provides the greatest economic multiplier impact of any industry, from purchasing raw materials and equipment to transportation and across the entire supply chain."

The addition of the Kaiser Permanente medical office in Lansdowne also bodes well for the future of the 21227 ZIP code, Quirk said, adding that the growth could increase property values in the area.

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