Ford considers regional office in the area for credit arm Columbia Gateway is in the running

The Ford Motor Credit Co., looking to establish its first regional operations center to process car loans, is considering leasing an office building at the Columbia Gateway business park.

Jim Bright, a spokesman for the Ford Motor Co. subsidiary, said yesterday that the Columbia site, off Interstate 95 and Route 175, is one of several locations in Maryland and Northern Virginia under consideration.


"We have been working closely with the state and Howard County, and they have been helpful," Mr. Bright said. "We are optimistic something could be worked out in [the] near future, but at this point it is not a done deal."

Mr. Bright said that the regional operations center "would be a first of its kind for us, and it would cover processing car loans for Ford dealers and retail customers in Northern Virginia, [the] District of Columbia and the Baltimore area." He said that there would be some "new hires, depending on how many employees would relocate."


The regional operations center would be operational in mid-1992 with 100 employees, who would come from four Ford Motor Credit Co. branch offices in Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Mr. Bright indicated that if the consolidation is successful, there could be a significant increase in the number of employees at the regional center. Howard County officials have been told that employment could eventually reach 1,000.

The Columbia office building under consideration is owned by South Charles Realty, an affiliate of Maryland National Bank, which took back the financially distressed property from Rouse & Associates this year.

Ford Motor Credit, based in Dearborn, Mich., was started in 1959 and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Ford Motor Co. The car loan arm of Ford has 8,600 employees at 132 branch offices in the United States and 12 in Canada.