A little more than two years after breaking ground i Perryman, the Clorox Co. celebrated the opening of its largest manufacturing and distribution center yesterday.
Harford County Executive Eileen M. Rehrmann, 2nd District Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, Clorox Chairman G. Craig Sullivan and plant manager Jim Berger unfurled a huge blue bow that read, "Thanks Maryland!" during a 30-minute ceremony at the center.
Lawmakers and company officials praised the cooperation between government and private industry that led to construction of the $75 million, 360,000-square-foot center on Perryman Road.
Clorox began operating part of the center in January. About 100 truckloads of bleach leave the 150-acre site daily. The center employs 145 workers and has an annual payroll of about $4 million.
Mr. Sullivan expressed gratitude to both state and county officials for helping the company select the site.
"Never in my 22 years with Clorox have I ever experienced such cooperation from government," he said. "Our choice to locate in Harford County was made easy after meetings with Mrs. Rehrmann and Jim Fielder [county economic development director]."
Mr. Sullivan also thanked Perryman residents for accepting and welcoming the company.
Mrs. Bentley marveled at the high-tech facility and praised engineers who designed it "so the correct product comes out when the buttons are pushed."
She also said she could understand Mrs. Rehrmann's wooing the company because it is expected to contribute some $225,000 in taxes to the county annually.
Mrs. Rehrmann said the entire project exemplified government working with a company. She called Clorox a "world-class operation" and a "perfect partner in the neighborhood," then invited Clorox to consider future expansion.
Mr. Berger said the state-of-the-art plant is equipped with machinery capable of producing bottles made of recycled plastic. The company also invested $250,000 for equipment to recycle plastic at the site. He said Clorox was the first bleach manufacturer to use recycled plastic.
"Some of our other plants have been purchasing recycled bottles," he said, "but a decision was made to spend additional money at this facility to give us such capabilities [to recycle]. It is our desire to keep plastic out of the landfills."
Mr. Berger said Clorox located in the county largely because of Harford's "fast-track" permit-approval system, designed to streamline the approval process and reduce bureaucratic delays.
"Most states have similar permit requirements and time tables, but the fast-track system simply cut through a great deal of red tape," he said. "By saving time, the system saves a company money."
Harford has attracted other large companies -- MCI Communications Corp., Frito-Lay, Pier One Imports, Merry-Go-Round Enterprises Inc., The Gap Inc. and General Electric Co. -- with the program.
Since beginning "fast track" eight years ago, the county has approved permits in as little as three weeks. But only one in 10 prospects gets that red-carpet treatment, and a company's community involvement record is a criterion -- one county officials said Clorox met.