At least by the standard of its own recent economic development coups, Harford County was having a slow summer. A major manufacturer hadn't announced plans to open in Harford in, what, at least several months. Then last week rose two major items: B. Green, the wholesale grocery distributor, confirmed that it was negotiating to move from Lansdowne in Baltimore County to a vacant warehouse in Harford County's Perryman, which has become a magnet for distribution centers. At least as significant was the news that After Six formal wear wants to take over a garment factory in Bel Air that closed two months ago.
When Gleneagles Inc. rainwear shut down in June, about 300 people lost their jobs in Bel Air and Towson. They were well-paying, manufacturing positions that were seen as lost forever. It was the same type of gloom felt when Kelly-Springfield Tire Co. closed in Cumberland or Western Electric Co. shuttered in Dundalk in the mid-1980s. Yet just months after being let go, many former Gleneagles employees apparently will have job opportunities from After Six, if negotiations are successful.
The pending After Six deal is the second time this year that Harford County, through persistence and providence, has been able to fill a vacant factory and save manufacturing jobs. Last winter, American Cyanamid Co. was scheduled to close its aircraft material plant in Havre de Grace. A Connecticut firm bought the facility with the intention of shifting the work to its New England base. But Alcore Inc. decided to stay in the county because of the quality of Harford's work force.
Cultivating jobs in this arid economy is extremely difficult. Coaxing manufacturing jobs out of it is an even greater deed. Those who say it can't be done need look no farther than Harford County.