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Two new businesses — a defense contractor and a global projection screen manufacturing company — have taken up residence in some of Westminster's industrial space.

In aggregate, the two firms are expected to employ a total of 80 to 90 people in Carroll County.

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Advanced Thermal Batteries, Inc., a manufacturer of thermal batteries used in missile, space and munitions programs, is relocating from Cockeysville to Carroll. The firm will be taking up residence across from the Air Business Park along Md. 97 on Independence Way.

Elite Screens Inc., a California-based projection screen manufacturing company that has offices throughout the world, chose Carroll as its second base of operations in the U.S. to meet an increased demand for its product, according to David Rodgers, marketing manager for the company. It will also be operating at the airpark in Westminster.

Advanced Thermal Batteries finalized the purchase of 40,000 square feet of space for $3.8 million last week, but the process took more than a year, said Michael Windsor, sales and marketing manager for the contractor.

"We were trying to stay in Maryland," Windsor said. "Out of all of the facilities we looked at, this was by all means the best selection for us. It fits our purpose, geographically it's well located, and there's a lot of talents in the area."

Rodgers said Elite Screens officials spent a year doing performing due diligence in identifying possible locations on the East Coast that would be conducive to business.

"[Carroll County] seemed to be a relatively pleasant and financially affordable place to set up shop," he said. "What really makes it is cost efficiency. Seeing what Maryland has compared to the hostile business policies of California, it was refreshing."

Advanced Thermal Batteries is making modifications to the interior of the property — which are expected to take five to six months — after which employees and some equipment will be transferred to the site, Windsor said. The site will not be fully operational until the major machinery is moved in the spring 2016, he said.

Elite Screens' location in Westminster is operational, Rodgers said, but the company is still working to stock its product.

"Once we are fully stocked, we will have the same [capabilities] as in our Los Angeles facility," he said. "The whole idea [of opening a location in Carroll] was to make sure our West and East Coast customers were serviced in the same amount of time. Our demand has grown exponentially in North America, and our facility on the West Coast is on the verge of being overwhelmed so we needed to... find a facility to share the load."

Windsor said Advanced Thermal Batteries employs 30 full-time workers, but is planning on increasing that number to between 40 and 50 employees over the next five years.

"We're bringing [jobs] to Westminster," he said.

Both the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development and Carroll's Department of Economic Development offered incentives in order to draw Advanced Thermal Batteries to Carroll, Windsor said.

The state approved a $125,000 conditional loan to the buyer of the property, he said. If the conditions of the loan are met throughout the life of the loan, such as maintaining 25 full-time employees, it could be turned into a grant.

Windsor was unsure of details of the incentives offered by Carroll's economic development department.

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"What those finally ended up being I don't know," he said. "There were incentive programs offered that were beneficial to remain in Maryland and be in Westminster. [Economic development staff] were very helpful in working with us to maintain us as a company in Maryland."

Jack Lyburn, administrator for strategic accounts and outreach for the Department of Economic Development, did not return phone calls, emails and attempts by County Administrator Roberta Windham to find out about the county's incentives to Advanced Thermal Batteries.

Eventually, Elite Screens' Carroll location will have the same capabilities and number of employees as its California location, which is about 40 positions, Rodgers said.

Carroll's Department of Economic Development also offered Elite Screens incentives to locate in the county, he said. Due to a non-disclosure agreement, Rodgers was unable to reveal the details of the incentive other than it is dependent on the firm maintaining 25 employees.

"Although Elite's location currently does not meet said requirements, it will benefit once it has had the opportunity to hire from the local populous," he said. "The incentive is a brilliant offer that encourages businesses to create wealth and jobs from which the local economy benefits. Consequently, the government benefits via tax revenues and a decrease in unemployment."

Carroll County Commissioner Doug Howard, R-District 5, said the county's continued success at drawing businesses such as Advanced Thermal Batteries and Elite Screens to the area will work to the benefit of taxpayers.

"At the end of the day, all we can do is either cut [levels of] service, put more of a burden on taxpayers or increase our tax base," Howard said. "We are getting the right kind of companies and this allows us to lessen the burden on taxpayers."

It is good to see these projects are coming to fruition after years of work by the Department of Economic Development and other county staff, he said.

"And when other companies start to see the success they are having, it will bring even more businesses here," Howard said.

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