The Price Club has opened an East Coast distribution center in a 100,000-square-foot warehouse in Techwood Business Park, near Baltimore-Washington International Airport.

The center distributes merchandise to 17 stores in five states from Virginia to New York.

The Price Club -- cash-and-carry warehouses that charge business owners annual membership fees and sell everything from food to appliances -- plans to open three more East Coast stores by the end of the year.

Other Maryland stores are in Glen Burnie, White Marsh in Baltimore County, Gaithersburg in Montgomery County and Beltsville and Marlow Heights in Prince George's County.

The Price Co., which runsthe warehouses, chose the airport-area site because of its proximityto a good highway system and labor force, said Jack Flanagan, director of East Coast distribution.

Price, which ships most of the merchandise by truck, chose the site over locations in New Jersey,Pennsylvania and Virginia.

The center employs about 12 people in administrative and warehouse jobs, Flanagan said.

The company is first to occupy the warehouse, built on speculation by business park developerTrammell Crow Co..

"The Price Co.'s decision to locate in Maryland reinforces our standing as a major distribution center for the mid-Atlantic market," said J. Randall Evans, secretary of the state Department of Economic and Employment Development.

Other companies withregional distribution centers in the state include Clorox, Pier 1, The Gap, General Electric and Hardees.

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